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Dealer association endorses new Salt Lake City trade show

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (BRAIN) — A group with a background organizing a paddlesports trade show has announced an outdoor industry trade show for next July that will include bike exhibitors and has been endorsed by the National Bicycle Dealers Association.


The Big Gear Show, scheduled for July 21-25 at Salt Lake City’s Salt Palace convention center, will include three days open to the trade and a final day open to the general public. Organizers are targeting hardgoods suppliers, rather than apparel brands, across the bike, paddling, climbing and camping industries.

The NBDA, which endorsed Interbike for many years, has already signed on to endorse the Gear Show. “What I’m really excited about is that it’s mostly focused on hardgoods and it’s going to be put on by retailers, for retailers,” said NBDA president Brandee Lepak. “This show is going to be a healthy environment for us to do business and work with all of the other industries on putting together an education platform that will benefit all of us.”

The NBDA will organize dealer education events at the show.

Organizers said the show will have exhibitor rates of about $12-15 per square foot, which they said is less than half the rate at shows like Outdoor Retailer and Interbike. They said only “relevant” exhibitors will be allowed.

“We welcome equipment, hardgoods, accessories, and a limited assortment of extremely technical footwear and apparel brands. No George Foreman grills, CBD oil, or offshore knock-off artists who don’t respect our industry’s intellectual property,” the organizers said in a FAQ section of the event’s website. 

Sutton Bacon, one of the organizers, told BRAIN the July dates are a compromise between bike industry and paddlesport industry timing needs. 

“Our data indicates that, first of all, there is no ideal date for a trade show. Interbike had later dates than the paddlesports show, which was the end of August. Outdoor Retailer is in June .. we decided to settle on July versus a later date. We’ve seen that for many dealers August is the more difficult time to get out of the store. Schools are restarting, the college kids (who work retail in summer) are leaving, but the weekends are still busy. So we think late July is actually best for the bike industry. For climbing, it’s probably a little late, so its a compromise for every industry.”

Bacon said the show will provide retailers with travel incentives of up to $150 a night to encourage attendance. He said dealer education events at the show will be peer-to-peer, on the theory that retailers learn best from other retailers, including those in different categories. 

Bacon is the former chairman and CEO of the Nantahala Outdoor Center,  and co-founder of Paddlesports Retailer, a three-year-old trade/consumer event last held in August 2019 in Oklahoma City.

Bacon’s partner in The Big Gear Show is Darren Bush, the owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports and Canoecopia, and co-founder of Paddlesports Retailer.

The show will be reaching out to major bike brands, whose absence from Interbike in recent years contributed to that show’s demise. But he said the new show can be vital even if the biggest brands decline to attend.

“We are small and agile and working across a variety of different industry segments, unlike interbike. Our success is not predicated on must-have brand attendance. I’m not saying we won’t do everything we can to attrack Trek and Specialized, but we’re not dependent on them, just like on the outdoor side we are not dependent on The North Face on any of the mega brands. We want them to be part of the show, but we are much more about the small brands and the innovators,” he told BRAIN.

In a press announcement, Bacon said, “We’re starting this show for hardgoods manufacturers, innovators, and industry start-ups who don’t have the profit margins to afford expensive trade shows. Our show is about the future and not the past. It’s about parity, curation, the democratization of floorspace, and the prioritization of innovation. We’ll have booth size limits for larger brands and VIP placements for start-ups. We understand the importance of being in one room — no more basements, tents, or ballrooms. We are all about heralding product innovation in all aspects of the show and challenging the entire industry to answer the fundamental question of ‘what’s next?’” 

The show will be held about a month after the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, which is scheduled for June 23-25 in Denver. It slots in about five weeks prior to the next major trade show on the bike industry calendar, Eurobike, which is Sept. 2-5 in Germany. 

More information: thebiggearshow.com.

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