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Outdoor Retailers putting on a show

Exhibitors back in town a year after tornado tragedy

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Last year's Outdoor Retailers Summer Market was big. This year's show is the biggest — in the world.

Which, to put in perspective, simply means there are enough boats under the Salt Palace roof to start a navy, enough shoes to fit an entire army and enough cotton shirts to dress up a country.

There are 975 companies under the Salt Palace roof, about 100 more than last year, selling everything from tents to T-shirts, ocean-going kayaks to energy bars for dogs.

It was all there Saturday, the second full day of the outdoor retailer's show. Buyers from around the world — some 7,000 are expected over the four days of the show — were scouting out every niche, corner and hallway looking for old products to re-order and new ones to try.

Between a single pavilion and new space inside the Salt Palace, this year's show is occupying about 310,000 square feet of space, making it the largest show of this kind in the world. Last year's show, the one cut short by a tornado, covered about 275,000 square feet.

While businesses were setting up for last year's show, an afternoon tornado ripped apart two pavilions, injuring several, kill one man and crippling hundreds of exhibitors.

It was for many exhibitors and retailers both a costly and harrowing experience. But good did come of it.

"With a disaster like this, people come together. There's a certain bonding that's present this year that hasn't been here before. There has also been a bonding with the city through all the support that was given," said Dieter Tremp, show director.

"I've heard more good things about (Salt Lake City) this year than ever before."

The range of goods this year is wider by virtue of more floor space for more companies. Among the products are:

The two largest growth areas are in paddle boats, a.k.a. kayaks, and in apparel, such as shirts, pants, shorts and shoes.

There are also the more unusual items.

A light that glows without aid of batteries or electricity from Freeplay. Spin the handle for 30 seconds and the light glows brightly for up to four minutes. Another few spins and another four minutes. There's also a self-powered radio that plays up to an hours with a few spins on the handle. Retail on the light is $59.99. The radio is $69,95.

The ever-expanding market for dogs is showing signs of more growth. Now there are energy bar for dogs, from Zuke's, and an inexpensive way for dog owners to play "fetch" with the pooch without dealing with all the drool, brought to you by Canine Hardware.

The doggie Power Bones are a natural endurance bar formulated with the right balance of proteins, fats, fibers, vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates for the active dog.

Instead of reaching for the wet, slimy tennis ball fetched by Rover, owners can now pick up the ball with a Chuckit, chuck it and wait for the retrieval, all the time keeping the hands dry.

As for the buyers, they can look for the thousands upon thousands of outdoor-related products to hit the shore shelves sometime before next summer.

E-mail: grass@desnews.com