The North American Sportshow - the world's first digitally produced, internet-delivered all outdoors consumer show (www.nasportshow.com) - opened Jan. 7 and runs through April 7.
David Gray is a serial entrepreneur in the outdoor industry. During the past three decades, the Missouri resident has owned successful bait and tackle shops and boat dealerships, and also founded Ardent Reels and CarbonX Rods.
Gray saw a problem with traditional boat, sport and travel shows, so like he always does, he looked for a way to build a better mousetrap.
"Attendance at conventional sports shows continues to decline, but outdoor consumers still desire to see what's new in fishing tackle, hunting gear, camping equipment, boats, trucks, and RVs," Gray said. "They want to book sporting vacations and speak with outfitters, and they want to do this in the first-quarter of each year.
"The North American Sportshow gives consumers all of this from the convenience of their computer 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the entire first-quarter of 2104."
Outdoor industry businesses, such as fishing-rod manufacturers, retailers and lodges, are always looking for new, creative and innovative ways to reach consumers and deliver their messages. The North American Sportshow uses technology to save both time and money for these businesses so they can offer you better deals.
"There isn't much the Internet hasn't changed," Gray said. "We live and work in a world of digital communication. The North American Sportshow embraces this reality. The Sportshow is an all-outdoors virtual exposition, held in the largest gathering place in the world - the Internet."
Communication isn't lost, either. Digital contact technology lets you chat with company representatives in real-time, one-on-one conversations.
You'll be able to download catalogs and information sheets, so there's no more lugging around a heavy bag around and throwing away a lot of paper later.
You also can watch product demonstration videos, listen to seminars by professionals, view television commercials, compete in contests and enter to win drawings. The Grand Prize drawing for attendees is a brand new Ranger Boat
The North American Sportshow is visitor-friendly and convenient. You can attend the show from anywhere you have Internet access, visit booths and see what you want, when you want, as many times as you want to attend. And you don't even have to pay for parking.
Visiting traditional sport shows has been one of my favorite winter events since I was a little kid. The North American Sportshow won't stop me from going to these, but when it comes to shopping for deals to stock up on gear for the coming fishing season, I don't think there's ever been an opportunity like this before, where you can get the level of information and complete your purchase in a matter of minutes.
The North American Sportshow delivers the benefits of a traditional boat, sport and travel show to your computer. Like many others, I was bit skeptical at first, but now that I've toured the show, I can tell you it's not only a cool concept, it's a valuable resource for sportsmen.
Brandon Butler is an outdoors columnist for the News Tribune. Contact him at email@example.com.