Outdoor Retailer Show Director on Cancellation, What’s Next
Outdoor Retailer, which is increasingly attracting brands in our space, announced Thursday it has canceled the 2020 Summer Market because of the COVID-19 crisis.
We reached out to Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer Senior Vice President and Show Director, to find out more about the decision and what it means for the future of the show.
The 2020 Summer Market had been scheduled for June 23-25 in Denver.
How challenging has this situation been given that the show was scheduled for June?
Marisa Nicholson: Our team has been proactively reaching out to brands, retailers, reps and others in our community over the last few weeks to understand how it’s impacting their businesses.
We’ve all seen how rapidly the COVID-19 situation is changing and also the mounting challenges everyone is facing. And those challenges have become bigger than the timing of the show given the fact that everyone and every business is being impacted in so many different ways. There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, but we knew the health and safety of our community had to guide our decisions.
Did you consider pushing it back to later in the summer?
Marisa Nicholson: We’ve seen more stores and offices closing indefinitely, and all outdoor businesses are making difficult financial decisions. Everyone is seeing the effects now, and the impacts will be felt through the summer and beyond.
Do you think there are digital solutions that can help bring retailers and brands together?
Marisa Nicholson: We’re actively looking at different digital tools and platforms to help connect brands and retailers and everyone in our industry. We recognize that nothing is going to replace the value of everyone coming together. Now, we’re focused on finding alternative solutions to help people through this time.
How will you try to recreate that sense of community and vibrancy that is part of the show?
Marisa Nicholson: What makes the show great are the people. The energy and sense of community you get when we’re all together – that’s something you can’t recreate outside of the show. So much discovery and aspects of networking get lost in the digital. There’s real value in the human connection, and an idea can spark from a casual conversation.
It’s our goal now to support the industry during this time so everyone can still get business done and make the needed connections in order to get through this season and into recovery mode. Then we’ll come back together in January and be face-to-face again.
Had brands started to pull out of the show given the crisis?
Marisa Nicholson: As the effects of the COVID-19 situation were beginning to be seen across the country, we immediately started reaching out to brands to understand what impacts it was having on their business. We recognized it was going to impact spring/summer 2021 lines, and it has grown beyond that. Brands are having to reevaluate budgets and were concerned they may need to cancel.
Why do you think trade shows are still important in an increasingly digital age?
Marisa Nicholson: As we’re all spending time apart and working remotely, it’s reinforcing our need to connect face-to face. We’re fortunate to have software and platforms available as business solutions, and there are digital tools available that allow us do business more efficiently. But it doesn’t replace the real value of coming together in a meaningful way. When we’re together over the days of the show, there’s a different focus and a real attention on being present – you’re open to new ideas, you’re discovering new opportunities, and you’re trying to understand the direction new product innovations are taking us. We’re sharing a lot more and it all helps us move forward.
Can you give us some sense of how large the June show was going to be – how many brands had signed up, etc.?
Marisa Nicholson: Prior to a few weeks ago when COVID-19 was starting to have an impact on the national and global economy, we were pacing ahead for Summer Market in both the number of exhibitors that had signed up and the number of attendees registered. Early indications were that it was going to be a really strong show.
Are you committed to keeping OR in Denver?
Marisa Nicholson: Our agreement with the City of Denver is currently through 2022, and we’re committed to making Denver our long-term home. We’re really looking forward to getting back there again in January for our winter show.
Editor’s note: For more information about what happens with deposit and registration fees and other issues now that the show is cancelled, Outdoor Retailer answers a wide range of questions in the FAQ section on its website.