Last week we headed to Salt Lake City for the annual Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, a mind-blowing convention of outdoor enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, problem-solvers, and established brands from all over the world and every division of the “outdoor” industry. The Summer Market is all about selling, buying, networking, and craft beer drinking. As shop owners and enthusiasts, our mission was to find the latest and greatest gear for our shop; the kind of gear we love to use, share, and sell. Here’s our 2015 recap:
Open Air Demo
Held at the scenic Pineview Reservoir, manufacturers of all things that float set up tents and provided the opportunity to test the gear on-water and provide feedback. We tested SIC Maui, Amundson, Surftech, Naish, Starboard, Boardworks, and Hala Gear.
The stand out brand this year was a colorful line of inflatables from Hala Gear, based in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Now that every brand is making an inflatable SUP, Hala is unique in their diverse line of shapes and sizes, from the super small whitewater/surf model to the extra large model with built in d-rings to fit a collapsible seat. The Hala brand is built on durability and versatility.
The second trend we are seeing is the return of prone paddle boarding. Both Surftech and Boardworks have added more prone boards, so good news for all you crawlers out there.
Inside the Convention Center
The massive SLC convention center features manufacturers inside the “main” building as well as an outside with an above-ground pool and an auxiliary “pavilion” with a variety of paddlesports brands and related accessories. More good news for consumers is that three of our major brands have lowered prices for the 2015 season and are offering some models in lower price-point options. Only one brand has actually raised prices. On the paddle side, Kialoa has expanded their line to include models built just for kids and women. Other new players to the paddle game include Surftech and SIC Maui, offering full lines of paddles in addition to boards. On the accessory side, Howzit has hit the scene with colorful and customizable leash systems, paddle bags, board bags, stylish neoprene, and clever foldable beach bags and change mats. They have also lowered prices, which makes everyone happy. Other stand out brands include Cova, a new men’s apparel brand, and Dakine now offers paddle-oriented jackets, tights, and apparel.
The overall feeling at the Summer Market is that the pulse of the SUP industry remains strong and steady, which is good news for both retailers and consumers. We predict continued innovation and diversification of of the sport, which means success for everyone.