Grassroots Connect blooms this June with record-setting gathering of independent specialty outdoor retailers and brands

May 16, 2023

With 215 total brands in attendance – including 77 in the Discovery Marketplace – this spring’s Connect will be the largest collection of vendors ever gathered by the group

KNOXVILLE (MAY 16, 2023)/OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Grassroots Connect, the twice-annual buying show of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, returns next month to the Knoxville Convention Center, bringing together more than 400 retail buyers from 206 retail doors nationwide with the outdoor world’s best known and best loved brands for nearly 10,000 pre-scheduled appointments.

With 215 total brands in attendance – including 77 in the Discovery Marketplace – this spring’s Connect will be the largest collection of vendors ever gathered by the group.

The breadth of attendance is accompanied by broadly positive sales among Grassroots’s 100 member retailers – which recently reported sales increases of more than 4% in the last 12 month period.

The strong support from retailers and vendors can also be attributed to the long-term consistency of show dates, which are returning to early June for the 25th consecutive year, dating back to the first Grassroots buying show in 1998 in Lake Tahoe, California.

“Grassroots Connect originally honed in on early dates as a planning convenience for vendors and retailers, but the June timing of the event has become even more valuable in the last few years as order deadlines have moved up and windows have shrunk for available showing time,” said Gabe Maier, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. “Both retailers and brands are acutely aware that there’s only so many events that people can go to and only so much time that they can be away from their core business. That shared recognition among all attendees is a key reason that Grassroots Connect is such an effective event.”

Grassroots Connect will begin on Sunday (June 11) with Exhibitor Move In and Education Day and will be followed by four days of pre-scheduled show meetings, lunchtime learning sessions, and evening special events. (June 12-15). A sampling of highlights and new features at the show include:

  • Sunday (June 11) – The Grassroots Discovery Marketplace will return at more than double the size from its inaugural event last fall, and will be open to buyers from 4-6 pm and to all attendees from 6-7 pm. This curated brand gathering is specifically structured to introduce prospective new vendors to the Grassroots community of member retailers, guest retailers and sales representatives. Its “meet and greet” format includes a simple booth, limited product selection, and a casual structure with no pre-scheduled appointments.
  • Tuesday (June 12) – The Grassroots Connect Open House Happy Hour will run from 5-7 pm on the main show floor, providing additional discovery and networking opportunities as the traditionally closed booths of the show are opened to retailers.
  • Wednesday (June 14) will be the Keen Klean Up, partnering with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Legacy Parks Foundation and River Sports. Described as an “urban canyoneering adventure,” the green-up effort will begin at 6:15 pm.

A collection of key links for the upcoming June Grassroots Connect is available here (LINK), including a daily schedule of learning sessions, social networking opportunities, and special events.

A Grassroots podcast interview – with Maier as well as Grassroots director of membership and education Dana Howe – describing key details of the event is available here (LINK).


Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is a retailer-owned active network of 101 independently owned outdoor retailers and 69 vendor partners, working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail. Through data collection and analysis, direct member support, specialty events and deep vendor partnerships, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is creating both a vision and roadmap for the long-term success of independent specialty retail. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is recognized as a catalyst for the success of its retailers and vendor partners; an advocate for specialty independent retail; a promoter of education and community within the specialty channel; and a key influencer of the national outdoor industry. For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, please go to www.grassrootsoutdoors.com.

Connect by Grassroots is our twice annual legacy show experience that spans 4 days offering an efficient and structured format for retailers to conduct their pre-season line showings and business conversations. Connect appointments are scheduled well in advance of the show which supports brands that already have established business with our retail attendees. Connect is focused and efficient and allows retailers and brands to conduct business together at the right time in the buying cycle, while also incorporating opportunities to celebrate the outdoor industry and retail community. The next Connect will be held June 12-15, 2023 (Knoxville, Tenn.). For more information, please visit https://connect.grassrootsoutdoors.com.

Discovery Marketplace by Grassroots is our exploration experience aimed at introducing our attending retailers to new, niche, and exciting brands in a 3-hour unstructured open format offered at the beginning of Grassroots. The Discovery Marketplace is about making introductions and building new relationships between retailers and emerging brands. The next Discovery Marketplace (LINK) will be held June 11, 2023 (Knoxville, Tenn.).