In The News

Another Trade Show on the Horizon

The Big Gear Show Is Set to Launch in Salt Lake City in July

A new trade show is set to launch this July. The Big Gear Show, from the team behind Paddlesports Retailer, will take place July 21-25 in Salt Lake City and will feature hardgoods only. It will also have a consumer element.

Retailers Sutton Bacon and Darren Bush, co-founders of Paddlesports Retailer, are the driving forces behind the show. Bacon is the former CEO of the Nantahala Outdoor Center and a former Outdoor Industry Association board member. Bush is the owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports and Canoecopia and is a former Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Foundation board member. The National Bike Dealers Association is endorsing the show as the official national show for the bike industry.

On the show’s website (, Bacon and Bush outline their plans for the show and their points of differentiation.

They emphasize that the outdoor industry was “forged by men and women who took the same risks in business as they did on rivers and mountains,” but note that today, years later, “the outdoors has become mainstream.” They note that, “The outdoor lifestyle is a way of life for tens of millions of people. But our industry is at a crossroads. Big boxes are failing our brands. Amazon is suffocating our local gear shops. The big are getting bigger. And private equity and Wall Street investors are threatening the soul of our industry.”

The Big Gear Show, Bacon and Bush believe, is “a show for the rest of us — the innovators, the start-ups, the domestic manufacturers, and the local gear shops where the staff walk the talk.”

The show founders say their show will have lower exhibition fees than competitive shows, and that its pricing structure will “keep money in the pockets of gear companies, who simply don’t have the margins to afford expensive trade shows.”

“The outdoor lifestyle is a way of life for tens of millions of people. But our industry is at a crossroads.”

As for key points of differentiation, the show founders list a few:

“As retailers ourselves, we are singularly-focused on the needs of the outdoor gear shops and equipment manufacturers. No distractions, no George Foreman grills, CBD oil, or container dumpers who don’t respect retail distribution or intellectual property. And qualifying retailers can earn a lodging reimbursement to help offset the cost of attendance.”

• “Our show has a cost structure that is actually affordable for gear companies to exhibit. Our prices are a fraction of other national shows and we take no mark-up in your booth decorations and drayage. We believe trade shows are for education, networking and doing business, and we will eliminate extra expenses by removing unnecessary distractions.”

“We will have highly-technical in-show demo opportunities available throughout the show. Paddle tanks, indoor and outdoor bike tracks, climbing walls. We know that retail hardgoods buyers are themselves category experts.”

“We are inviting consumers into our big tent for a consumer event on the last day of the show. The only way to attain maximum buzz and reach for our exhibitors is by taking our products and stories directly to consumers and the media through a consumer showcase. Also, the consumer day provides start-ups an opportunity to help offset the cost of show attendance, which helps incubate new brands and drive innovation.”

“We have partnered with our friends at the National Bike Dealers Association, which represents over 1,100 independent bike storefronts. NBDA is endorsing the show as the official national show for the bike industry. We have been separated from our friends in bike for way too long — bikers hike, climb, camp and paddle too. We’re all selling to the same consumers, and we welcome them into our big tent with open arms.”

Paddlesports and bikes are expected to be crucial categories at the show, along with tents, bags and other hiking and camping equipment. Footwear and apparel will not be part of the show mix. The final day of the show will be open to consumers. The consumer day will be a brand showcase, with selling as optional — brands with local specialty distribution “must work with local dealers, while other brands may sell direct to consumers,” according to the show’s organizers.

Get your insight early.

Sign up for Outdoor Insights' mailing list to get our publication delivered to your inbox. January, May, June, October, November.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.