Outdoor Retailer Pulls out of Utah over Bears Ears

outdoor retailer pulls out of utah
Global Partner

After 20 years of hosting the Outdoor Retailer’s massive trade show in Salt Lake City, the industry leaders and organizers of the show are pulling it out of Utah over the public land issues surrounding the Bears Ears National Monument. 

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utal
The Bears Ears landscape contains more than 100.000 cultural and archeological sites making it among the most precious and significant archeological regions within the United States.

Outdoor Retailer Leaves Salt Lake City

Citing unproductive meetings between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and outdoor recreation business representatives, Outdoor Retailer (OR) show owner Emerald Expositions said they would be looking for a new location for the annual trade show as soon as possible.

“It is clear indeed that the Governor has a different perspective on the protection of public lands than that of our members”- Outdoor Industry Association

In a written statement released from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) which has close ties to the massive, twice-yearly trade shows in Salt Lake City, it states, “It is clear indeed that the Governor has a different perspective on the protection of public lands than that of our members and the majority of the Western state voters, both Republicans and Democrats –  that’s bad for our American Heritage and that’s bad for our businesses.  We are therefore continuing our search for a new home as soon as possible.”

Bears Ears cliff dwelling Utah
Along with the visually stunning cliff dwellings, the Bears Ears archeological significance also includes ancient roads, underground pit houses, villages, and shrines.

Industry Leaders take a stand on Bears Ears Controversy in Utah

This recent conflict between Utah’s sitting government and the Outdoor Retailer industry results from a disagreement in politics regarding the state’s Bear’s Ears National Monument.

Due to the”blatant disregard for the Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah.” -Patagonia CEO, Rose Marcario

In December of 2017, former President Obama designated 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region as the Bears Ears National Monument.  This resolution, deemed as a hard blow to groups seeking further energy development within the state, was viewed as a major victory for Native American tribes, outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists alike.

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utah
Walking among the canyons and ridges within the Bears Ears National Monument is to be walking among some of the first known dwellings of Native Americans in the North American region

Patagonia Says ‘No Way’

The move by OR from Salt Lake City comes less than two weeks after industry leader powerhouse Patagonia announced they would not be attending the Outdoor Retailer trade show in response to a resolution passed by the Utah governor advising President Trump to overturn the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument in the state.  Patagonia’s pull-out of the main event was a head turner and a strong statement in response to Utah’s pending resolution.

“The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry”– Patagonia Founder, Yvonne Choinard

Patagonia President and CEO, Rose Marcario, said, “Because of the hostile environment they have created and the blatant disregard for the Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah.  We are confident that other outdoor retailers and manufacturers will join us in moving to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation.”

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utah
The mesa tops within the monument are covered with great houses, ancient roads, underground pit houses, villages, and shrines dating as far back as 11,000 BC.

Outdoor Retailer Looking for New Home

According to a press release from the Outdoor Retailer’s owners, Emerald Expositions, the show will not be including Utah at all in it’s new request for proposals from hopeful cities eager to host the multi-million dollar trade shows.  OR has decreed they are moving their events to another state.  The biannual events will be a huge loss to the businesses of Salt Lake City as they generate as much as $45,000,000 annually and host as many as 40,000 visitors.

“We are in lockstep with the outdoor community” – OR Director, Marisa Nicholsen

Show director, Marisa Nicholsen, explains, “Salt Lake City has been hospitable to the Outdoor Retailer for the past 20 years, but we are in lockstep with the outdoor community and are working on finding our new home.”

Patagonia’s influence on the decision by Outdoor Retailer and that of several other companies who began to follow suit by refusing to sign up for the event this year due the to Bears Ears dispute in Utah is a major move risking income against values in a turbulent political climate.

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utah
The monolith, are made of Cedar Mesa Sandstone dating back 250 million years. For the outdoor adventure types, this Valley of the Gods is an outdoor adventure land beyond compare.

Preservation vs. Development

Patagonia’s Founder and industry leader, Yvonne Choinard points to the $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs that outdoor recreation creates for the state of Utah each year.

“The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry,” argues Chouinard.

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utah
Stunning visual scenery, mixed with ancient wisdom, archeological artifacts and North American history comprise the majority of the Bears Ears National Monument.

Domino Effect as Industry Brands Walk Out

Shortly after Patagonia announced their boycott, another industry giant Arc’teryx followed suit.  Other companies including Polartek and Peak Designs  began to join the fall out and demand a new location.  The good news is Colorado has been courting the Outdoor Retailer exhibition since 2010 and is eager to host this multi-million dollar event.

“Four years ago, we didn’t have the facilities to host the Outdoor Retailer, but that has changed now,”

says the director or Colorado’s Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, Luis Benitez.   In addition, it sure helps that Colorado’s Governor recently launched a 100 million dollar plan to develop trails throughout the state and has publicly expressed his belief that the country needs more public land conservation, not less.

Bears Ears Outdoor Retailer Utah
Gov. Gary Herbert struggles to maintain composure under the heat and exposure brought on by the departure of one of the largest outdoor trade shows in North America.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert Under Fire

“A gross ingratitude” – Utah Gov. Gary Herbert

Utah’s Governor Gary Herbert’s office has issued a statement saying that the OR’s decision to pull out of Salt Lake City “smacks of gross ingratitude.”

It is not clear yet where the Outdoor Retailer shows will be for 2017 but several states vying for the benefits of hosting the events, including Colorado, Washington and New Mexico have already stepped forward to place their bid and persuade the show’s organizers to consider their territory as a new home for this exclusive outdoor retailer event.

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Evelyn O'Doherty, editor & publisher of the new Standup Journal 2.0 is a former school teacher gone rogue. She left her career as a teacher in order to spend more time near or on the water after learning to surf turned her life around (upsidedown?). She is a year-round surfer and paddler living on the eastern tip of Long Island in NY who is a certified SUP instructor, seasoned SUP racer and avid longboard surfer. Evelyn was hired as Online Editor to Standup Journal in 2016. Her passion for the project quickly led to her success and eventually taking over the mag herself in Oct. 2018. Today, as editor, publisher and chief bottle washer at Standup Journal, Evelyn keeps her toes wet writing, traveling, paddling, surfing, and learning to foil. You can find her most days paddling out on Gardiner's Bay or surfing Ditch Plains in Montauk, NY.