Don’t Let Kings Peak Hit You, On the Way Out

By Chuck Warren

Guess what? Utah and Salt Lake City are going to survive the Outdoor Retailer Association leaving. And the people of Utah – stewards of this place we call home – will continue to honor and protect a place known as Bears Ears, Monument, along with every acre, public or private.

No more of the twice annual trumpeting from downtown Salt Lake City where threats to boycott or leave — first because the Salt Palace was too small – so it was added to; then not enough hotel rooms with a convention hotel connection to the Salt Palace—it’s on the way to being taken care of; the claim Utah’s liquor laws are too strange, yet in the summer and winter when the Outdoor Retailer shows are here it seems there is plenty of pale ale and Jack Daniel’s sold – and liquor laws were changed somewhat; again, for them.

And always, the one I have personally taken great offense to, goes off into the sunset with them as well – that Utahans do not respect, nor take care of the beauty surrounding us.

In reality, with two decades of bullying by the Outdoor Retailers, Utah has been blackmailed into spending tax dollars specific to the threats of leaving, and upon the spending, promises to stay here.  Appears though, there are some folks biking in Moab, or climbing the cliffs of Zion who have short memories and spoke to the Governor with some very forked tongues.

So let me remind them, plus share with Utah citizens what Outdoor Retailers shouting and stomping of feet has already seen purchased by you for them. And let you appreciate what this promise broken, to stay – if… has cost. And this is just the tip of the iceberg – no pun intended Patagonia.

Now remember, two exhibitions. One summer, one winter: with estimates of together bringing $40 million to the economy.  In 2004 the Outdoor Retailers said if the Salt Palace was not expanded – it would say, “bye, bye.”

Utah agreed to the blackmail and expanded:

2005-6 Expansion – $58 Million budget

$46 Million from Salt Lake County

$4 Million from the State of Utah

$8 Million from Salt Lake City

515,000 square feet of exhibit space,

164,000 square feet of meeting rooms,

45,000-square-foot ballroom

66 meeting rooms.

If you haven’t seen the addition you really should, it is yours. And since it has pretty been empty fairly often through the year, other than when the Outdoor Retailers came to town, it’s easily wandered into.

Must be some kind of new math, but how exactly does the spending of $58 million by Utah to keep $40 million in the state, leave an $18 million shortfall that doesn’t really seem to matter to the Outdoor industry; as they continued to threaten and ask for more and more each year. In fact, the current legislative session was in the process of budgeting $2 million to this year’s summer show.

And now, now citizens of Utah.  The threat from this group has become a reality. Twenty-years of give and take-take-take, counts for naught. Yet, most of all, of being incredible hosts to the retailers and those who buy their gear.  Certainly, Utah and its people must being doing something right in the management and protecting of lands, as it appears both those coming to visit and others coming to stay increase significantly yearly.

Guess it’s a question of which came first? Utah, or the Outdoor Retailer Association? Easy enough, and we’re stay and they aren’t. They’re going to pick up their toys and after two decades of Utah politicians and citizens rolling out the welcome mat and putting up the fists full of tax dollars; they’re going to go play their game of “I want’, “you need,” and “we own you”, somewhere else because a population of citizens, where probably 60% can trace ancestry to early pioneers, are not good stewards of the land where we live, work, and recreate.

The CEO of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, had already said his company will never come back to Salt Lake City.  Every Utahan should read his blog of Jan. 11, 2017, that begins with: “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.”  Now, hold on to your hats because this is the really good part, he says: “THE AMERICAN PEOPLE OWN THESE LANDS – AND UTAH REAPS THE REWARDS.”

It is shame, but I am sick of society where adults bully, make threats and boycott … especially when a city and state has kissed their horses petunia for the equivalent of a $40 million gun held to our heads twice a year and best of all, live in a state that is owned not by those who live here, but “the American people.”

I think we were all tiring of the constant threats. You would think without, as Mr. Chouinard, puts it, the retailers and the “gobs of money,” and being a “cash cow”, enough so our politicians would “bend over backwards” in welcome; that without them we become a third world country, his quotes, not mine.

When “Will & Grace” airs 10 episodes next year, I am not going to boycott it because Debra Messing is a liberal. I will watch it and laugh. I am not going to boycott films because of liberal actors. I wish people would grow up.

Yes, Mr. Chouinard, we are well aware outdoor recreation in Utah is a $12 billion industry and supports 122,000 jobs.  And in your blog it is kind of you to mention other uses of Utah’s very public lands.  As you say: “Sure, we use these lands for energy and grazing and other things too.”

I’m with you Mr. Chouinard, as you so well put in your blog, “I say enough is enough.” Utah simply needs to remind the Outdoor folks we have loved them, appreciated them and thanks to the exposure they have helped Utah gain nationally and internationally, our rooms are full, the wait at restaurants downtown long, and other shows or will book the Salt Palace; and Zion Curtain or not – a good Whiskey Sour can be had.

I think with Mr. Chouinard and in the tone of his blog, he has shown his level of respect for the people of Utah, who are among the best stewards of lands public or private anywhere in America. Apparently, much the same lack of decorum shown in Thursday’s phone call to our government leaders. If the retailers want to take their goods and go smoke joints in Denver, Godspeed.

And no, we don’t want the door to hit you on the way out, but your arrogance has many among the three million Utah residents who have spent lifetimes of respecting and preserving the place our ancestors were driven to live, and at one time even had the U.S. government declare war upon them; give a bonus not asked for, but well deserved – our goodbye and the one finger salute.

Yvon Chouinard’s blog about Utah can be found here: