Last month, while the twice-annual Outdoor Retailer show was underway in Salt Lake City, two of the outdoor industry's biggest brands—Patagonia and Black Diamond—issued strongly worded letters urging the show to cut its 20-year long ties with the state unless Utah's leadership altered its draconian stance on public lands including the newly minted Bears Ears Monument. Otherwise, founders of both companies, Patagonia's Yvon Chouinard and Utah-based Black Diamond's Peter Metcalf, threatened to pull their company's participation in future Outdoor Retailer shows, which brings $50 million in spending annually to Utah's economy. Yesterday, Patagonia made good on that threat, announcing their withdrawal from future Outdoor Retailer shows.
“Utah Gov. Gary Herbert signed a resolution on Friday urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument, making it clear that he and other Utah elected officials do not support public lands conservation nor do they value the economic benefits - $12 billion in consumer spending and 122,000 jobs – that the outdoor recreation industry brings to their state. Because of the hostile environment they have created and their blatant disregard for Bears Ears National Monument and other public lands, the backbone of our business, Patagonia will no longer attend the Outdoor Retailer show in Utah and we are confident other outdoor manufacturers and retailers will join us in moving our investment to a state that values our industry and promotes public lands conservation," noted Rose Marcario, President and CEO of Patagonia.
In his January letter, Patagonia's Chouinard highlighted Utah's economic dependence on public lands and urged an aggressive stance against the Utah governor's office and congressional delegation. He quipped, "I say enough is enough. If Gov. Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home ... I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation."
And Chouinard may just be right. In statements published yesterday, organizers of the Outdoor Retailer show hinted at their intention to actively shop the show to other states.
“We’ve been listening to the concerns from the industry and agree that it’s time to explore our options,” said Marisa Nicholson, director of the Outdoor Retailer trade shows, in a statement Monday. “Salt Lake City has been an incredible home to Outdoor Retailer and the outdoor community for the past 20 years, and we aren’t opposed to staying, but we need to do what’s best for the industry and for the business of outdoor retail.”
While Nicholson's unequivocal language merely alluded to the possibility of a move, the words from Amy Roberts, executive director of the OIA, were much more direct. Roberts noted that "OIA encouraged and supports Outdoor Retailer's decision to explore a range of host cities for the gathering of our community. The appropriate location of Outdoor Retailer should be determined by factors ranging from business economics for vendors and attendees to a location that upholds our industry's core values around the importance of America's public lands system. We will continue to educate policymakers on the economic contribution of our industry as well as our support of preserving places to recreate."