Update (February 7, 2017): Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has signed a resolution urging the Trump administration to rescind the Bears Ears National Monument. As a result, Patagonia will withdraw from Outdoor Retailer in Utah.
“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.” — Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia Inc.
In the meantime, Outdoor Retailer, in collaboration with Outdoor Industry Association and Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, is soliciting proposals from venues for 2019 and beyond. OR will still take place in Salt Lake City through the summer 2018 show.
“We’ve been listening to the concerns from the industry and agree that it’s time to explore our options.” —Marisa Nicholson, show director for Outdoor Retailer.
Other companies that traditionally show at Outdoor Retailer have begun to respond, both in solidarity with and opposition to Patagonia’s bold move. Interested to hear what your take on the matter is below!
This week is Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City. It’s the industry’s biannual trade show, where those of us who do this type of thing professionally can meet up with partners, learn about new products entering the market, and partake in some (ok, a lot of) happy hour shenanigans with those friends we only get to see a few times a year.
The show also produces more than $40 million for Utah’s economy twice per year, which could become an issue, according to Patagonia founder and environmentalist Yvon Chouinard.
It’s no secret our public lands and previously enacted conservation efforts are being threatened by a handful of Congresspeople, Governors, and Attorney Generals. That’s why Chouinard is urging Utah’s Governor Herbert to provide the leadership needed to protect the state’s natural places and public lands. And, if he doesn’t? Patagonia is taking its business elsewhere.
Always a thought-and-action leader in the outdoor industry, Patagonia may inspire other outdoor brands to use their voices to put real demand on lawmakers. Here is Chouinard’s open letter to Governor Herbert.
“The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry.”
Every year, millions of people visit public lands in Utah to climb, hike, ski, hunt and a heck of a lot more. I’ve skied, climbed and fished the wild streams of wild Utah for years. The American people own these lands – and Utah reaps the rewards. Every year, outdoor recreation in Utah drives $12 million in consumer spending and supports 122,000 jobs across the state. Sure, we use these lands for energy and grazing and other things too. But access to the outdoors is the reason why so many of my friends consider Utah the ultimate place to live.
It’s also why the outdoor industry loves Utah. Every January and August, Patagonia and hundreds of other companies spend gobs of money to show our latest products at the Outdoor Retailer show. The whole thing is a cash cow for Salt Lake City. You’d think politicians in Utah would bend over backwards to make us feel welcome. But instead Gov. 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.
The outdoor industry creates three times the amount of jobs than the fossil fuels industry, yet the Governor has spent most of his time in office trying to rip taxpayer-owned lands out from under us and hand them over to drilling and mining companies. And just a few days ago, the state announced plans to sue the federal government to reverse the recent protection of Bears Ears, a site containing thousands of years of Native American archeological treasures and craggy red rocks beloved by climbers from all over the world. Politicians in the state don’t seem to get that the outdoor industry – and their own state economy – depend on access to public lands for recreation.
“I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.”
I say enough is enough. If Gov. Herbert doesn’t need us, we can find a more welcoming home. Gov. Herbert should direct his Attorney General to halt their plans to sue and support the historic Bears Ears National Monument. He should stop his efforts to transfer public lands to the state, which would spell disaster for Utah’s economy. He should show the outdoor industry he wants our business – and that he supports thousands of his constituents of all political persuasions who work in jobs supported by recreation on public lands.
We love Utah, but Patagonia’s choice to return for future shows will depend on the Governor’s actions. I’m sure other states will happily compete for the show by promoting public lands conservation.”
Yvon Chouinard is climber, environmentalist, and the founder of Patagonia.