The newest stand up paddleboards (SUP), canoes, kayaks, shoes, apparel and more hit the open water and trails at Jordanelle State Park yesterday as Outdoor Retailer Summer Market kicked off with the Open Air Demo. The show continues with the start of the four-day event in Salt Lake City today.

A day in the mountains of Utah gave retailers a chance to put the latest offerings from outdoor manufacturers to the test and get a first-hand feel for gear ranging from paddlesports to trail running before making buying decisions later this week at the Salt Palace.

“Every show we hear the same thing from retailers: Having a chance to test this equipment is invaluable in the decision-making process,” said Kenji Haroutunian, vice president at Nielsen Expositions and OR Show Director. “With the scope of products at the Demo, retailers can test gear for every corner of their shop all in one place.”

Some of the events at the Open Air Demo included a SUP vs. canoe race, the Paddle/Pedal Challenge, which pitted retailers against the clock on a SUP and mountain bike race, the O’Neill Psycho Joust, Redington Casting Competition, fun runs, Magellan GPS Treasure Hunt and more.

“In terms of tradeshows in either surf or outdoor industries, this is the show where all the retailers are, it’s the right time of year for us to start taking orders and it’s unbelievable to be able to come here and have the on-water day; it’s the whole package. Participation is continuing to grow in this sport, and OR is at the heart of it all.”

Huntley Dornan, Surftech

“The best thing about this environment is that everybody gets to try out everybody’s boats. By retailers coming here they get to see first-hand on the water the changes we’re making so they’re educated for their buying and educated for their customers. This is the hub of the industry, everybody comes here.”

Damon Bungard, Jackson Kayak

“Open Air Demo is a chance for us to get some of our newest product on the feet of shop employees and people who run shops, plus we get feedback here to find ways to improve product, improve the booth space and have a better event. The retailers that come out early to take part in demo days are the ones who we really want to be speaking to because they’re the most stoked and they want to check everything out. It’s a great audience.”

Mark Hofmann, Patagonia Footwear

“I’m here to meet with vendors to discuss possible equipment and clothing that could help the US military. The Demo and Outdoor Retailer are great because it brings everybody throughout the US to one central location so we can have 80 meetings in three days.”

John Hurley, US Army

“We’re really trying to take our fly shop in a direction that’s not so much selling equipment as it is selling fly fishing. Open Air Demo is a great opportunity to come out here and paddle around, check out the stability, see if I can stand up and cast from them in order to provide something for my customers that is really brand new. Right now I can learn the difference between types of kayaks because I got to use them and experience the tradeoffs you couldn’t see if you were inside.”

Dave Leinweber, Angler’s Covey, Colorado Springs, Colo.

Attendees now head to the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City for Summer Market 2012, four days of business education, events, networking and finalizing buying decisions. The indoor portion of the show runs August 2-5.

For photos of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market and the most recent show happenings, visit or and #orshow.

Image courtesy Outdoor Retailer

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