Promoting sustainability seemed to be the guiding mantra for many Boulder County businesses attending the Outodoor Retailer Summer Market, which opened Tuesday in Denver, as well as for the event itself.
Several businesses redesigned and developed new products, launched sustainability campaigns, and became partners with various nonprofits to support worthy causes to come and share their stories at the three-day event, billed as the largest trade show in the outdoor industry with attendees from around the world. The show is being held at the Colorado Convention Center through Thursday.
Bill Kuntz, proprietor of Ameri*Canna Brand Ltd. , which makes ancilliary products related to cannabis including greetings cards, rolling papers, apparel made of U.S.-grown cotton, vape pen bags, multi-tools and ornaments, hand constructed his booth using post-consumer paper tube and upcycled lumber bought locally.
“There will be no waste when the booth will be broken down,” he said. “Sustainability is important to my booth and my products.”
Coming to a trade show is less about “writing orders” and more about “information exchange” said Mike McQueeney, president of Boulder-based Headsweats, which makes ultra-light, performance head wear and athletic apparel.
He spoke of a new synthetic fiber made of recycled plastic bottles his company is using to make customized clothing — Repreve, which is made of recycled plastic bottles. “We’ll be introducing a complete line of under-the-helmet products for cycling in July,” McQueeney said.
Headsweats recently introduced a series of hats, the Baxter Collection in honor of an office Chihuahua who died in November. McQueeney said a portion of the proceeds of every hat in the collection sold will go to the Colorado Canine Rescue. The collection is really popular, because Baxter’s story strikes a chord with everyone, he said.
At least, two Boulder County business owners also expressed fears about the ongoing tariff war between the United States and China.
“I have moved some production from China to Taiwan,” said Brian Kelleghan, owner Longmont’s Bison Designs, LLC, which is showcasing Longmont-made leather belts and leather belts with elastic, the comfort belt at the show.
His company outsources aluminum buckles, keychains, carabiners and embossed leather belts. Kelleghan said he’s seriously looking at countries other than China to get supplies.
He said the flow of visitors to his booth kept him busy on opening day, but he’s excited to meet his potential new customers.
At a trade show one never knows who ends up being a customer, said Jim Lamancusa, founder and CEO of Cusa Tea, which touts itself as the world’s first premium, organic instant tea company. Cusa Tea needs to build brand awareness, and a trade show provides a perfect opportunity to get people to taste Cusa Tea, he said.
To promote sustainability, Lamancusa is using small, reusable stainless steel cups, instead of disposable cups, for tastings. He partnered with Boulder-based Vessel Works to provide the reusable cups, he said. He’s paying as much as four times the cost of using paper cups, he said, adding it’s part of his company’s mission.
Boulder’s Khala & Co., offers beeswax wraps as an alternative to plastic, said co-owner Asa McKee, co-founder and co-CEO with his wife, Tamar McKee. The wraps are made of organic hemp, infused with coconut oil, resin and wax, Asa McKee said. The wraps eliminate food waste and are washable and reusable, Tamar McKee said. Their company, which donates 1% of its sales to nonprofits, has partnered with the National Parks Conservation Association to help celebrate its 100th anniversary.
Kristin Shearer, marketing and events manager for Matador, makers of lightweight packable gear for travel and outdoors, talked about the latest offering from her company yet to be introduced in the market: packable, leak-proof water bottles that come in two sizes and are equipped with straws.
“People are excited about packable hydration,” she said.
Krimson klover, a outdoor fashion collection for women, brought a new sun-protection line of apparel to the show, said Rhonda Swenson, founder and creative director of the Boulder-based company. The fabric is a dense knit, she said. It’s getting a lot of traction, she said. “There’s a strong interest.”
Swenson said she’s keeping her fingers crossed about the ongoing tariff spat with China.
“We stopped manufacturing years ago. We still can do cut and sew in the U.S., but it needs gigantic minimum orders,” she said, which makes it difficult for smaller companies. “We are not a textile driven country.”
Jon Fox, CEO of Ecovessel, also a Boulder company, that makes insulated stainless steel bottles and mugs in China wasn’t perturbed. He spoke of his company’s flagship product TheBoulder. It has been redesigned, and has more features and offers better performance than the competition, he said. It also is more affordable, he said.
His company has been advocating for eliminating single-use plastic bottle.”It’s a sustainability issue,” Fox said.
Show organizers also made sustainability a key goal for the Summer Market. They teamed up with Nalgene to provide all attendees a 32-ounce wide-mouth Nalgene water bottle, which can be used at more than 170 water refill stations at the venue, according to a press release.
Lisa Ramsperger, PR manager for Outdoor Retailer, said her company eliminated approximately 191,241 square feet of aisle carpet at Summer Market, which will save 1,200 gallons of diesel fuel used to ferry them back and forth and will prevent about 12 metric tons of carbon from entering the atmosphere, she said.