“Patagonia, REI, Public Lands threaten to boycott Outdoor Retailer trade show” by Cara Salpini via Retail Dive

“Patagonia, REI, Public Lands threaten to boycott Outdoor Retailer trade show” by Cara Salpini via Retail Dive

Dive Brief:

  • A group of major outdoor retailers — including Timberland, Patagonia, REI, The North Face and Public Lands — are threatening to boycott the Outdoor Retailer trade show if it’s moved to Utah, according to a release put out by The Conservation Alliance.
  • The retailers said they would not “support or attend a trade show event in Utah so long as its elected officials continue attacks on national monuments and public lands protections,” adding that Utah “leads the fight against designated national monuments and public lands.”
  • The Outdoor Retailer trade show, worth $45 million, was moved out of Utah in 2017 in objection to the state’s rollback of national monument designations for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante and has since been held in Denver. Outdoor Retailer said in a statement it has not made a decision around the location of the trade show.

Dive Insight:

The protection of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah has been a focus point for major outdoor retailers for years, with Patagonia in 2017 replacing its homepage with a black screen that declared “The President Stole Your Land” when President Trump reduced the size of the national monuments.

The protections have since been restored under President Biden, but The Conservation Alliance on Monday said elected officials in Utah “are once again moving to strip these magnificent lands of federal protection” and asserted they wouldn’t attend a trade show in Utah for as long as the state “continues its assault on public lands.”

Utah’s governor, Spencer Cox, released a video bid last year for the trade show to return to Salt Lake City, where it had been hosted for 20 years. (The trade show’s contract with Denver expires this summer.) Colorado leaders, meanwhile, have pushed for the show to remain in Denver, with Governor Jared Polis and Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper calling it a “natural home” for the trade show in a release on Monday.

“We love the outdoor opportunities Utah has to offer and would consider a move to Salt Lake if we saw a true commitment from the state’s leadership to align with our values and those of the outdoor industry,” Todd Spaletto, president of Dick’s Sporting Goods’ new Public Lands banner, said in a statement.

Public Lands was launched last year with the aim of championing environmental causes, and is now joining some of the biggest names in the industry in opposing the Outdoor Retailer trade show. REI, Patagonia and The North Face have long been known for their own support of environmental activism and join over 30 member companies of The Conservation Alliance in calling on the trade show to stay out of Utah.

Retailers calling for Outdoor Retailer show to stay out of Utah

“For decades, Patagonia has worked in solidarity with Indigenous communities, local activists, outdoor athletes and businesses in Utah. We love the state and its spectacular cultural and natural landscapes. We were thrilled when President Biden restored the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments this past October, and we will oppose any effort to undermine their protection,” Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said in a statement. “Our position on the location of the Outdoor Retailer trade show remains clear and unchanged: The show belongs in a state whose top officials value and seek to protect public lands.”

Outdoor Retailer said Wednesday it was “committed to supporting the outdoor and winter sports industries” and had not decided on a new location for the trade show.

“We have been in ongoing conversations with many across our industry and are taking all input and perspectives into consideration, including responses from recent surveys — we appreciate the passion and respect everyone’s point of view,” Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer senior vice president and show director, said in a statement. “As we continue the process of evaluating all possible and realistic options, we remain thoughtful in our deliberations. Our chief goal is to host a vibrant event that not only reflects today’s new normal, but also presents an engaging event that draws as many as possible into this community in ways that are authentic and affordable.”

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