Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Snow Show
(Photo/Scott Martin, Outdoor Retailer)

Patagonia, REI, The North Face Among Top Brands Boycotting Outdoor Retailer Move to Utah

The Conservation Alliance leads 24 outdoor companies in an effort to fortify national monument and public lands protections.

In a Feb. 14 press release, a contingent of outdoor brands led by The Conservation Alliance expressed stark opposition to the relocation of Outdoor Retailer (OR) from Colorado to Utah by its parent company, Emerald Expositions.

“Despite widespread industry objections, Emerald has demonstrated a continued interest in moving the Outdoor Retailer trade show to Utah,” the group stated. It added that it “will not support or attend a trade show event in the state as long as its elected officials continue their attacks on national monuments and public lands protections.”

Outdoor Retailer is the industry’s leading trade show in the United States, and its presence typically ushers an influx of business and tax revenue to its host state. It’s hard to imagine what the show would be without the outdoor retail giants. Prior to landing in Denver, OR had called Salt Lake City home for nearly 30 years.

Executives representing Patagonia, DSG Public Lands, REI Co-op, Backpackers Pantry, and Toad&Co. contributed to the public announcement. Another 19 brands have joined them in the effort to boycott a move of OR to Utah.

Emerald Expositions currently has OR scheduled in Denver through the Summer Market show this June. As yet, there is no location set for the next Winter Market show or beyond.

Outdoor Retailer Home: Indigenous Rights, National Monuments, Public Lands

In its statement, The Conservation Alliance cited the wavering of protection of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. Both territories were among the first and largest sites that the Trump administration stripped of federally designated protection from drilling and mining interests.

It was the most significant loss of federally protected lands in U.S. history.

blue-bear-denver-convention-center
(Photo/Steven Gerner)

The Biden Administration subsequently restored those protections. But that restoration was met with extreme opposition from political leaders in Salt Lake City.

“Utah’s leaders are again aiming to undermine those monuments and their protections,” wrote Been Steele, REI’s chief customer officer.

“As a result, REI will not participate in any OR trade show in the state — nor will we send members of our merchandising or other co-op teams — so long as Utah persists in attacking our public lands and the laws that protect them.”

And this isn’t the first time that OR’s wires have crossed with Bears Ears/Grand Staircase. Up until 2017, the trade show was held in Salt Lake City. Somewhat ironically, its organizers pulled OR out of Utah to protest the state’s revocation of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase protections.

In his contribution to Monday’s statement, Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert emphasized the threat Indigenous communities face when their lands are cracked open for exploitive purposes:

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 … and we will oppose any effort to undermine their protection. 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 Brands Against OR in Utah

  • REI Co-op
  • Patagonia Inc.
  • The North Face
  • Public Lands
  • KEEN Footwear
  • Oboz Footwear LLC
  • Kelty
  • Sierra Designs
  • Peak Design
  • Toad&Co.
  • SCARPA
  • MiiR
  • NEMO Equipment
  • Backpacker’s Pantry
  • Smartwool
  • Therm-a-Rest
  • MSR
  • Timberland
  • Helinox USA Inc.
  • GU Energy Labs
  • La Sportiva N.A. Inc.
  • Alpacka Raft
  • icebreaker
  • Arc’teryx
bears ears national monument
As Utah Vies for Outdoor Retailer, Industry Advocates Call Governor's Policies 'Openly Hostile to Public Lands'
As Outdoor Retailer considers returning to Salt Lake City, the industry's message is simple: 'Protect our lands if you want our business.' Read more…

Jilli Cluff
By

Jilli grew up in the rural southern Colorado mountains, later moving to Texas for college. After seven years in corporate consulting, she was introduced to sport climbing — and life would never be the same. She now works as a contributor, gear tester, and editor for GearJunkie and other outlets within the AllGear family. She is based out of Atlanta, Georgia where she takes up residence with her climbing gear and one-eared blue heeler, George Michael.