While Outdoor Retailer is in Denver, the Salt Palace will become a forum for small ski shops to buy goods

It’s not Outdoor Retailer, but a trade show has been booked for Salt Lake City next January that is designed to bolster the state’s connections to the ski industry.

The Winter Sports Market, which brings together ski-gear manufacturers and a cooperative representing small independent retail stores, will be held Jan. 23-25 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. It will be the first of a three-year partnership agreement between Winter Sports Market organizers and the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

About 1,200 people are expected to attend the convention, said Visit Salt Lake President and CEO Scott Beck. The Outdoor Retailer winter market in 2017 drew closer to 25,000.

“It’s by no measure a replacement for OR,” he said, “but we think it can have great staying power here because of the scope of the outdoor ski product here in Utah already.”

Beck was referring to companies such as Amer Sports, Rossigol, Dynastar, Lange and Black Diamond that have a presence in Ogden, Park City and Salt Lake County.

“Winter Sports Market vendors and retailers will greatly appreciate the convenience and affordability of Salt Lake City’s world-class amenities. There are so many activities within a short drive of the Salt Palace,” said Tom Adams, director of the Utah Office of Outdoor Recreation, a GOED branch. “Bottom line, Utah is a mountain above the rest when it comes to merging business and recreation.”

The Winter Sports Market was started in 1998 by two companies — Sports Specialists and Snow Sports Merchandising — to bring together buyers from all of these independent retail stores and the suppliers of hardware and software goods for primarily Alpine skiing.

Beck said the market had been taking place in Denver in conjunction with the annual ski show of the Park City-based Snowsports Industries America (SIA). But when Outdoor Retailer moved to Denver and hooked up with the SIA show, the Winter Sports Market went looking for a new home and found it in Salt Lake City.

“We welcome Winter Sports Market members and manufacturers to experience all Utah has to offer,” said GOED Executive Director Val Hale. “Utah’s unmatched access and beauty provides a premier venue for outdoor recreation conventions. We look forward to a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.”

Unlike Outdoor Retailer, which had as much marketing value for vendors as direct sales opportunities, the Winter Sports Market is much more focused on making deals.

“It’s not a promotional show. It’s a sales show,” said Beck, noting that buyers for the retail cooperative “have proven purchasing power” with companies like ski manufacturer Dynastar or bootmaker Lange.

“The importance of this show is not based on its comparative size to OR,” he added. “It’s a really good way to showcase the scope and scale of the outdoor industry in Utah.”