Salt Lake City—The Outdoor Retailer Winter Market prides itself on showcasing innovative new products that make it easier and more fun to go out and enjoy yourself to the fullest. This year, some retailers at OR are trying to make sure you don’t leave Fido at home while you go try out your new gear.
Companies like Hurtta, K9 Sport Sack, EK Ekcessories and Joshua Tree Skin Care are either geared toward or have products for adventure-seeking pups to be safe and enjoy themselves in the outdoor arena. And, this year, they’re finding a receptive audience excited for their offerings.
“We’ve had a lot of people reaching out, especially for pet products, which I find interesting,” said Candis Robbins, who works in marketing for EK Eksessories. The retention accessory company—which makes lanyards, belts, eyewear retainers, leashes and pet collars—has been at both OR markets for many years. This year, said Robbins, just happens to be more of a pet year, for whatever reason.
That’s good news for Hurtta, an 18-year-old Scandinavian brand that creates functional outdoor wear for dogs, is “like any other human high-end brands we know,” said brand manager Kim Peschardt.
The products are made from a GORE-TEX breathable membrane, with some pieces created to be waterproof and others specializing in warmth. The brand makes a sun-and-bug blocker for summer months, as well as various coats for all types of cold and outdoor terrain. There are also harnesses and boots to keep the pup safe at all times. The company’s booth even had a small (and patient) dog model, who trotted around and sat on the displays to showcase the ease of movement and comfort the pieces have for any canine companion.
“This is for people that are outdoors-active and bring their dog along. A lot of people take their dogs hiking, they bike with them, they paddleboard with them. We do that a lot with our dogs,” said Peschardt. “So this is gear for outdoor dogs.”
Hurtta is quite well-known across Europe, said Peschardt, but has only recently begun dipping its paws into the North American market. While Hurtta has been to two summer OR markets, this is its first winter market. The response from the winter market has been “overwhelming,” said Peschardt.
“Most of our outdoor gear is geared toward cold weather activity. It’s obviously much more right to be here at this time. It catches much more interest and is much more relevant,” he said. “It’s a niche thing but it’s something that buyers are clearly aware of as something where they can grow their business and that there is a demand amongst people.”
K9 Sport Sack is a local brand that creates a small backpack in which to carry a furry friend. Co-owners Joseph Watson and Grub Bussio both wore their own dogs in the backpack in their booth—Watson’s dog, Daisy, is the “CEO of the company,” said Watson.
The idea for the product came from Watson’s desire to carry Daisy with him while he biked. After some initial failures using products already on the market, Watson developed a backpack that is more comfortable for any dog under (or around) 30 pounds, with holes for a dog’s head and front paws.
While K9 Sport Sack’s team has been to various pet shows, both co-owners say that the brand has done exceptionally well at OR.
“This is our first outdoor rec show. The reaction has been bigger and better than any pet show we’ve ever done,” Watson said. “For some reason, people are coming by and saying, ‘I’m looking for an outdoor product and I’m remembering that I have a dog,’ rather than coming to us and saying ‘I have a dog, I need a product for that dog.’ The response has been unreal. We’re having a great time at this show.”