After a busy Saturday on the river, it was time to stumble into the car to head to the Atlanta airport…and off to Salt Lake City for a brief visit to the Outdoor Retailer Show.  Adding in a time zone change or two, eleven hours later we landed in Salt Lake and headed to the convention center.  A bit bleary eyed, we still took in a few first impressions and ran into some of our favorite industry friends.  

First impression: Going Conservative. After a big year of changes/new products last year, this year is a conservative year in the whitewater industry.  Instead of loading up on new products, first impression is that most of the companies worked hard on improving some of their best selling items.

Second Impression: Going Green. Okay, I don’t think any of us wants to be a hypocrite—when scrutinized, we are not in the “greenest industry overall.  But manufacturers are trying.  Many of the manufacturers are working to develop PVC-free products, less packaging, and/or better recycling. 

This may well be the last OR show for Team ERA. Due to pressure put on manufacturers by their asian partners to place orders early, the OR show will be pushed back to July in 2009.  The word on the street is that many of the whitewater industry’s retailers may not be able to attend a show held in mid-July since July is still early in the whitewater season. Aside from not really knowing what is/is not selling for many, taking off during the peak of the season could be too much for many retailers. The hope is that the industry is listening and will consider a separate show for paddlesports.

 Best quote heard third-person: “You might not realize it, but I am actually kind of a big deal,” said by a kayaker while being “escorted” out of a local SLC bar by the bouncer.