Grassroots Connect wraps up sold-out and solid Knoxville spring show, sets eyes on fall industry gathering

June 16, 2022

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization working together for the health and growth of independent specialty outdoor retail, closed the curtain on their sold-out spring Grassroots Connect show last week

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE (JUNE 16, 2022) /OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (, the national organization working together for the health and growth of independent specialty outdoor retail, closed the curtain on their sold-out spring Grassroots Connect show last week.

Gathering 118 attending retailers representing more than 200 storefronts, Grassroots Connect had the familiar bustle of a peak season order-writing sales event – back to back meetings, engaging conversations, busy downtown restaurants and long lines for coffee at the hotel.

“While we’ve returned to pre-pandemic attendance levels and in-depth sales conversations that have traditionally been at the heart of the Grassroots Connect show, the specialty outdoor retail community is still very interested in forward looking business topics such as the impacts of ongoing supply chain issues ranging from a condensed selling season to oversupplied and undersupplied retailers,” said Dana Howe, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance director of membership and education. “Fortunately, in all those cases, high level communication and transparency are the right tools for the job, and those are things that Connect always delivers.”

Attendees at the spring Grassroots Connect show had many reasons for optimism and confidence, as strong apparel and footwear numbers led all sales categories among Grassroots member retailers through the middle of May, led by apparel (+20.5%), footwear (+20.2%), eyewear (+16.5%) and hydration (+ 8.9%).

“Whether it’s the good news of what’s selling well, or bad news like the imminent wave of closeouts that is going to hit the industry in the next few months, Connect is the right place to be to talking about and strategizing around the key issues that are facing the specialty outdoor retail community,” said Grassroots member retailer Wes Allen, owner of Sunlight Sports.

In addition to core business conversations, more than a dozen other essential topics were elevated during the Grassroots Connect show’s educational sessions. Examples of those conversations include a discussion of a more equitable and profitable approach to growing the specialty outdoor retail community, which was led by Earl B. Hunter, Jr. of Black Folks Camp, Too; a “reality check” on best practices for hiring and retaining employees, led by Jenna Celmer of Basecamp; and a panel discussion focused on how independent retailers can best prepare for the arrival of a ‘Big Box’ national chain in their community, led by Tara Kuipers of Grassroots.

The next Grassroots Connect gathering is scheduled for Nov. 7-10, 2022, in Kansas City, Mo. Invitations to vendor brands will begin in late June, and initial appointment scheduling for retailers will begin in August.

ABOUT GRASSROOTS OUTDOOR ALLIANCE: Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is an active, independent network of 104 independent retailers, with 207 retail locations in 42 states, 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 also 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

ABOUT GRASSROOTS CONNECT: Grassroots Connect is an ideally timed, invitation-only buying show for the specialty outdoor industry hosted by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, Connect provides a highly efficient opportunity for retailers, reps and vendors to present, discuss, plan and collect pre-season orders. Cost-effective and simple, Connect is both an incubator and testing ground for the greater outdoor industry. Invited retailers receive a per attendee reimbursement to offset their travel costs. The next Grassroots Connect gathering is Nov. 7-10, 2022 (Kansas City, Mo.).