Industry News 11/20/2015

EVENT: Inaugural Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect Charts the Way Forward for Specialty Retailers

The way business is done within specialty outdoor retail continues to evolve and with the changes, the opportunities for specialty outdoor retailers have never been stronger. But specialty retailers operate unique local businesses that need a network of like-minded peers and custom-tailored solutions to evolve and harness the growth opportunities at hand.

The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the Grassroots Summit and Connect, exist to provide that network and foundation.

The inaugural Connect show, which took place in Knoxville, Tenn., Nov. 9-13, introduced new timing and a new format to the organization’s past gatherings, and it was successful on multiple levels. Both vendors and retailers were impressed with the highly productive work environment, the educational and networking opportunities, and the overall ease of the event. What’s more, the strong attendance afforded Grassroots retailers the ability to place orders and view lines all in one place, eliminating the need to travel to multiple shows.

“Grassroots Connect and Summit are the only buying and educational event in our industry put on by specialty retailers, for specialty retailers and for our key brand partners focused entirely on the independent channel,” said Wes Allen, president of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance.

“And by all accounts, the Connect event proved strongly that specialty plays a role in both driving the industry forward and holding it together. Connect showed that the specialty community continues to be inclusive and influential in the outdoor space.”

Grassroots is an organization of small retail business owners committed to creating solutions and best practices for the success of outdoor specialty. The organization is completely committed to providing the resources, network and solutions needed by specialty retailers in the outdoor recreation space.

“There are not too many environments like Connect, where vendors can collaborate and sit down with retailers and really get their feedback. It’s truly a partnership,” said David Duron, National Sales Manager for Toad & Co, a Grassroots brand partner.

While orders and planning take place, there’s also a lot more to the event that bridges specialty retail to business success.

“I didn’t realize how much I needed a show like this, which is lower stimulation. It has been so much easier for me to focus and for our company to do business here,” said Maura Kistler, owner of Water Stone Outdoors.

In addition to doing business, Connect offers ample opportunities for retailers to interface directly with their sales reps, but also with the brand’s sales and marketing managers.

“It’s the partnerships. It’s the relationships. It’s the foundation where it all starts and is cultivated. I think that’s the best part [of Connect]. You’re cultivating relationships, you’re celebrating the ones that have been successes, and you’re making new ones,” added Jennifer Merkel, owner of Chalet Sports, a Grassroots retail member.

“We truly appreciate the partnership with Grassroots and the incredible job they are doing to promote specialty retail and creating a constructive environment to bring together fresh ideas, best practices and long lasting, successful business relationships. Ibex got so much out of the show, we are already signed up for the spring show in Albuquerque!” said Matt Kaplan, VP of Sales at Ibex Outdoor Clothing.

To experience interviews, snaps and conversation from the inaugural Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect event, visit to

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance will continue to build the momentum and focus to keep specialty strong at its next gathering in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Summit will run June 12-14 with Connect taking place June 15-17, 2016.