SIA settling into Denver in year two |

SIA settling into Denver in year two

Arn Menconi, executive director of Avon-based youth nonprofit SOS Outreach, is on the road attending various ski and snowboard industry tradeshows and conferences. He’ll be sending periodical dispatches from the events, telling readers what’s new and interesting in the world of snow sports. This dispatch comes from the Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) Snow Show in Denver.

DENVER – If this year’s Snowsports Industries of America (SIA) tradeshow is any indicator of how next season will be for the industry – things are looking up.

Organizers of the Snow Show said that they saw significantly bigger numbers and felt a much more optimistic and energetic atmosphere compared to the past couple years. SIA President David Ingemie said he attributes the success to great snow and record retail sales in 2010. The industry topped $1 billion in sales in December, he said.

“This show has been the strongest in a number of years,” he said. “The vibe is very good. People seem to be here ready to work, and there’s a lot of new, technologically advanced product. The market is coming back.”

Companies, who come to the tradeshow showcasing their new products to buyers from retail stores, said they’ve seen renewed buying interest from stores and customers.

Mike Carey of Seirus Innovations, a glove and accessory company, said that he’s seen consumers with discretionary income once again ready to spend.

“From a consumer standpoint, there’s been a lot of pent up buying being withheld,” he said. “Now the spending shackles have come off, and from the retail standpoint it’s a freer mentality. They’re not as worried that people aren’t going to show up and buy the product.”

As Rick Kahl, editor of Ski Area Management magazine, explained, the industry has learned that in a tight economy, customers were still willing to pay for recreation.

“Over the last two to three years customers have shown that they’ll spend good money for an experience – such as at a ski resort,” he said. “They’re buying lift tickets, skis, boots – all the tools that will help them have a great time.”

Show finding its place in Denver

This is the second year that the tradeshow has been hosted in Denver instead of Las Vegas, the event’s old venue. Ingemie said the move has proven positive.

“It’s great being close to the mountains, and people like walking in the fresh air to get to the show,” he said. “Denver’s been great.”

Ben Rifkin, an associate publisher with Bonnier Mountain Group that produces SKI, Skiing, Skiing Business, and Warren Miller magazines, said he’s enjoyed having the show closer to his home base, but that it was a very different feel from the crazy scene of Las Vegas.

“I think the show has its differences, and in Denver we’re still trying to find our footing here,” Rifkin said. “It’s great to see what’s going on in the industry, what’s new, what our editors are going to be focusing on next year, and get updates on everybody’s business. It’s a great show and I’ve seen some great booths.”

Big turnout for youth rally

Many of these companies also lent their support to SOS Outreach and nearly 20 other youth outdoor nonprofits Saturday morning at the Active Youth Alliance Summit. A big group of SOS participants came to help these nonprofits rally for getting youth outdoors in the lobby of the Denver Convention Center.

Ingemie, Mary Jo Tarallo from Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and U.S. Forest Service Regional Forester Rick Cables all spoke on behalf of the charities in the youth alliance, urging corporations and industry organizations to support their work.

“It was because of (organizations like these) that I got started skiing,” Ingemie said. “I didn’t come from a family with money and wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get into it otherwise. The industry needs to collaborate and give back, which many already are, to help these clubs and organizations that have been so great at getting us to think about this.”

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