Outdoor Retailer Trade Show Moving To Utah Amid Threats of Boycotts

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

Despite facing backlash and threats of boycotts, the Outdoor Retailer trade show will move back to its original home of Salt Lake City.

The biannual event has taken place in Colorado since 2018. But because the state’s contract ends this year, Emerald X, the company that runs the show, decided to seek a more affordable location. And after researching several states, it decided to head back to The Beehive State.

“Salt Lake City is our hometown, and we’re going back with a commitment to effecting meaningful change,” it said. “In reality, leaving after 2017 has not brought the change we had hoped for. So we will push back, not pull back. We firmly believe that staying engaged and collectively contributing to the ongoing discussion, no matter how difficult, is far more constructive.”

The Outdoor Retailer Show Left Utah After Lawmakers Sought to Remove Protections from Bears Ears National Monument

The Outdoor Retailer Trade Show originally left Utah after state lawmakers asked President Donald Trump to repeal the Bears Ears National Monument. Thirty companies with the Conservation Alliance, including The North Face, Patagonia, and REI also closed locations in the state.

Later that year, Trump ended up reducing the size of the monument, prompting a lawsuit by Patagonia.

When talks of relocating the show began in February, Utah was among several under consideration. And the Conservation Alliance warned that they’d walk if the Outdoor Retailer returned to its former home.

“Our position on the location of the Outdoor Retailer trade show remains clear and unchanged: The show belongs in a state whose top officials value and seek to protect public lands,” Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert wrote in a release.

President Biden restored the size of Bears Ears after he took office. But the Conservation Alliance still believes that Utah will continue to remove protections from public lands.

However, Emerald X says it has spoken to hundreds of companies and an “overriding majority” of exhibiters support its decision.

“We’ve talked to all the brands. And while we cannot speak for all the brands, our tent is open,” VP Jeff Davis said. “We want as many participants as possible to contribute to what we believe is a positive change.”

On Wednesday, Patagonia, REI, and the Conservation Alliance all issued separate statements condemning the choice to return to Utah. And they each said they’d follow through with a boycott.

“We are disappointed the owners of Outdoor Retailer are blatantly ignoring the Indigenous Peoples, local activists, and outdoor athletes who spent years working to conserve and protect wild lands in Utah by moving the show back to Salt Lake City,” Gellert said.