The Outdoor Retailer (OR) trade show, held bi-annually in Salt Lake City, Utah since 1996, is one of the world’s biggest gatherings of outdoor gear and apparel brands.
Last Friday, Patagonia, one of the biggest and most recognizable OR participants, announced it will no longer attend the trade show—so long as it’s held in the state of Utah.
Patagonia—known for its staunch commitment to conservation and the preservation of public lands—cited as its reason for the withdrawal a recent decision by Utah Governor Gary Herbert to ask the Trump administration to rescind the designation of Bears Ear National Monument.
In addition to being a renowned and well-loved climbing area, Bears Ear houses archeological relics in the form of rock art and Native American dwellings.
“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,” said Rose Marcario, president and CEO, Patagonia Inc. in a statement.
“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.”
Back in January, Patagonia founder and all-around godfather of the modern outdoor industry Yvonne Chouinard, expressed his frustration with Governor Gary Herbert’s agenda in a pointed letter posted on the company’s website. In the letter he hinted that his company may consider pulling out of the trade show if Utah’s officials didn’t amend their anti-public land stances.
“The whole thing is a cash cow for Salt Lake City,” Chouinard wrote of OR. “You’d think politicians in Utah would bend over backwards to make us feel welcome. But instead Governor Gary Herbert and his buddies have spent years denigrating our public lands, the backbone of our business, and trying to sell them off to the highest bidder. He’s created a hostile environment that puts our industry at risk.”
Today, Outdoor Retailer announced its intention to pursue new host cities once their contract with Salt Lake expires in the spring of 2018.
“We’ve been listening to the concerns from the industry and agree that it’s time to explore our options,” said Marisa Nicholson, the 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.”