By MIKE GORRELL, The Salt Lake Tribune — Talk about exceeding expectations.
Salt Lake City's convention people knew they had landed a good product when they first brought the Outdoor Retailer trade shows to town in 1996. But they never would have dreamed that this year's Summer Market, which opens Wednesday at the Salt Palace Convention Center after Tuesday's Open Air Demo at Pineview Reservoir east of Ogden, would ever grow to its current size.
The bottom line: $25 million in direct spending by the 29,000-plus people expected to attend this week's trade show, which runs through Saturday.
There are new people all the time. This Summer Market's lineup of 1,470 exhibitors includes 301 companies new to Outdoor Retailer, said Kate Lowery, a spokeswoman for the semiannual trade show now organized by Emerald Expositions.
"This is the 20th anniversary of OR being in town, so it's a substantial milestone," said Scott Beck, executive director of Visit Salt Lake, the county subdivision responsible for promoting Salt Lake as a convention site.
"If you look at the economic impact of the trade shows, I'd dare say that it surpasses everything we ever could have dreamed of," he added.
His figure for the 20 years: $565 million in delegate spending and $52 million in taxes for local, county and state governments.
"And that's not counting the number of companies that have chosen to come to our state after participating in Outdoor Retailer," Beck said. "It continues to be this incredible tool to showcase what we are as a community and what we can provide to outdoors businesses."
Salt Lake works for Outdoor Retailer, too.
"Each Summer and Winter Market, the community is welcomed so warmly," said Marisa Nicholson, Outdoor Retailer show director. "The community shares our passion for the outdoors and the outdoor lifestyle, making it a wonderful place to conduct business."