Huntsville • When a short but intense rainstorm hit Outdoor Retailer’s Summer Market Demo Day at Pineview Reservoir’s Cemetery Point on Tuesday, at least one of the 130-plus companies showing off products was delighted.
"Perfect," is how Joshua Frank of Southern California-based Braven described conditions.
That’s because the company makes waterproof Bluetooth speakers. The speakers, which include a backup battery and stay charged for as long as 15 hours, are waterproof to one meter for 30 minutes and also float.
"It’s the best way to demo it," said Frank. "As you saw, everything just came down and we left all of our stuff out. It works fine. It’s nice to show people that, right after the rain, you just dry it off and your music is good to go."
Demo Day is the prelude to Outdoor Retailer’s huge Summer Market trade show. The not-open-to-the-public event is expected to draw 28,000 manufacturers, retailers and suppliers, generating nearly $26 million in direct delegate spending to the Salt Lake City area and Utah. The Salt Palace hosts the trade show Wednesday through Saturday.
Demo Day allows store buyers such as Courtney Burns and Kyle Ottmann of Sandy’s Swim 2000 store a chance to try out a variety of new products.
"We don’t want to sell it to someone if you do not know how to work it," said Burns.
"It’s hard to recommend if you haven’t tried it, seen and tested it against other products," added Ottman. "It helps us recommend which is going to work better. Some paddleboards are going to work better than others for different people. It’s the same thing with kayaks and swimsuits."
Tents, dozens of paddleboards, canoes and kayaks as well as energy bars, camping equipment, electronics, life jackets, flashlights and footwear provided a colorful beginning to Utah’s major trade show.
Scott Knorp of Glide SUP, a Salt Lake City-based company that manufacturers paddleboards, said everybody who spends any time in the outdoors is used to getting rained on. He said Demo Day gives his company a chance to have potential buyers learn about his boards, which he noted are among the few made in the U.S., not China.
"Buyers see the boards at the show," he said, "but feeling how they play out on the water is important."
Blake Young of Bellingham, Wash.,-based NuCanoe expressed similar sentiments.
"We can talk about them all day long at the shows," he said. "But if somebody gets in there and tries it for two minutes, they know right away. They can see and experience how stable it is and how the boat paddles. That makes a huge difference. And letting people see and try new stuff on the water is just great, too. The rain is not hurting anybody."
One manufacturer, Kahuna Creations, was delighted at the Pineview location since it is just up the road from the company’s Ogden headquarters. The company’s James Funk was showing off a land paddleboard designed for use on pavement.
"It’s amazing to be here and to be so close to home," he said.
Outdoor Retailer is always a good place to find an unusual product.
Andrew Byrnes, founder of California-based FlameStower, showed off a gadget that he was still trying to name. It will either be called a lantern or candle charger. The $70 product contains a candle that provides light and heats water. The heated water then can charge a phone or tablet.
"Last year, we demonstrated our fire charger product and it was a hoot," he said. "Now we are in REI and a whole bunch of other outdoor retailers."
Outdoor Retailer is produced by Emerald Expositions, which is based in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. The group supports and promotes outdoor retailer education, advocacy, responsibility and critical face-to-face business initiatives within the outdoor industry.
New this year will be a tailgating area for outdoor products designed for those who enjoy the activity, a tech zone, an urban lifestyle area and a made-in-America showcase.
Peter Sheahan, founder of ChangeLabs, will challenge business-as-usual assumptions when he kicks off Outdoor Retailer on Wednesday with the annual industry breakfast before the show floor opens.
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