Skip to contents
Outdoors

Patagonia, REI, others threaten to boycott Outdoor Retailer if it moves back to Salt Lake City

The companies accused Utah's leaders of trying to chip away at protections for national monuments and public lands

Someone looks at the gear at the Meier Skis exhibitor booth during the Outdoor Retailer Snow Show in Denver on Jan. 27. (Steve Peterson, Special for The Colorado Sun)

An environmental conservation group and two dozen outdoor recreation companies, including Patagonia, REI and The North Face, announced Monday they would boycott the Outdoor Retailer trade show if it’s moved from Denver back to Salt Lake City, accusing Utah’s leaders of trying to chip away at protections for national monuments and public lands.

The Conservation Alliance, comprised of more than 270 companies, said in a news release that Emerald X, the publicly traded company that owns Outdoor Retailer, is considering moving the show despite widespread industry objections.

“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,” Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert said.

Get The Outsider, a premium outdoor newsletter by Jason Blevins. Become a Newsletters+ Member at coloradosun.com/join. (Current members, click here to learn how to upgrade)

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox’s office and Emerald X did not respond to emails seeking comment Monday.

The outdoors industry took a stand after Utah lawmakers asked President Donald Trump in February 2017 to repeal the newly designated Bears Ears National Monument. Thirty outdoor companies objected, and the Outdoor Retailer show announced it would move from its longtime home in Salt Lake City to Denver.

The following December, Trump reduced the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. Patagonia sued and declared on its website, “The President Stole Your Land.”

Those protections have since been restored by President Joe Biden, but The Conservation Alliance says Utah’s leaders are still trying to undermine the monuments.

The biannual Outdoor Retailer show, which generates tens of millions of dollars in local economic impact, has dwindled in size in large part because of the pandemic, and Denver’s five-year contract with Emerald X expires after this summer’s show.

Emerald X sent a survey last year to the show’s attendees asking about a possible move to several cities, including Salt Lake City, Anaheim, California, Houston, Las Vegas and Orlando, Florida.


We believe vital information needs to be seen by the people impacted, whether it’s a public health crisis, investigative reporting or keeping lawmakers accountable. This reporting depends on support from readers like you.