REI, Patagonia and The North Face plan a boycott the Outdoor Retailer Show once she returns to Salt Lake City in 2023 to debate the Utah legislature’s stance on protecting public lands. Boycott organizers argue that moving the show only undermined these environmental goals.
The biannual show moved to Denver in 2018 after Utah lawmakers asked President Donald Trump to repeal the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument. The show packages a annual economic impact of approximately $45 million. Denver’s contract expires in 2022.
in the to announce last week’s return to Utah in 2023, Emerald Expositions, the show’s owner, said the dispute over public land could be better fought from Salt Lake City, home of the event for 22 years.
In a statement, Emerald said: “In reality, the departure after 2017 has not brought the change that was hoped for, so we will push back, not pull back.”
Steps Emerald is taking to drive “meaningful change” include:
- providing proceeds from the events to fund programs to support outdoor recreation and protect public lands;
- Formed a Business with Purpose initiative in partnership with Visit Salt Lake to host meetings between lawmakers and outdoor recreation leaders to discuss land conservation and outdoor access.
Other factors that contributed to this decision include easier access to water and snow demo sites to test products on the show floor, significant cost savings and a survey of outdoor retailers overwhelmingly want to return to Utah.
President Joe Biden has restored both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in southern Utah to their former glory.
The Conservation Alliance, made up of 270 outdoor companies, has argued that Utah political leaders are still taking legal action to roll back protections. In February the alliance sent a letter signed to Emerald by 24 major industry players, threatening to boycott the show’s return. Some reiterated their plans when the return was announced.
Ben Steele, EVP, REI’s chief customer officer, said in a media statement, “As we made clear in February, REI will not be attending any OR fair in the state as long as Utah leaders insist on protecting our public lands and laws who protect them.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you support efforts by major outdoor retailers and retailers to boycott the return of the Outdoor Retailer Show to Salt Lake City because of Utah’s environmental policies? Is the better way to drive change to deprive the state of a show’s economic benefit, or to stay with and work with local officials?
“Staying true to your brand while doing the right thing is rarely easy, but in this case, those two goals are well aligned.”