Grassroots Outdoor Alliance announces nominees for 2018 retailer and vendor awards

May 17, 2018

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, this week announced the nominees for their 2018 retailer and vendor awards.

 KNOXVILLE, TENN. – Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, this week announced the nominees for their 2018 retailer and vendor awards. 

Winners will be announced on June 13, 2018, during Night One of the Grassroots Connect buying show in Knoxville, Tenn.

Grassroots Connect is the only national event in the outdoor industry designed specifically to improve retail buying results. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, and organized to be as simple as possible in layout and design, Grassroots Connect is efficient, affordable and effective for all attendees.

“The annual retailer and vendor awards are an excellent and timely reminder that the success of independent specialty retail is rooted in great people, first and foremost,” said Dana Howe, Grassroots Retailer Relations Manager.

Voted on by Grassroots Outdoor Alliance retail members and vendor partners, categories for the 2018 Connect Award include Grassroots Retailer of the Year, Grassroots Rookie of the Year, Grassroots Vendor of the Year and Grassroots Sales Manager of the Year.  And for the first time, three new categories of  Retailer Recognition Awards will be added to celebrate excellence among the Grassroots membership in three categories: Advertising, Community & Events, and Merchandising Magic. 

In the award category of GRASSROOTS RETAILER OF THE YEAR, nominees include:

Bill Jackson’s Shop for Adventure – Pinellas Park, Fla. — “We’re not a big-box store. We’re independent, family-owned and operated… We help customers chase their passions, helping them plan and conquer their next adventure. An often-told story that sums up Bill Jackson’s goes like this: A customer turned to a longtime employee and said, ‘I can go down the street and get this lantern $2 cheaper. Why should I buy it here?’  Without missing a beat, the employee said, ‘Because we can show you how to light it.’” (Owners: Darry & Doug Jackson. Established 1946. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2002).

The Mountaineer – Keene Valley, NY – “We are truly part of the Keene Valley and Adirondack community… We live and breathe climbing, trail running, ski mountaineering, hiking, camping, and fly fishing. We work hard to make sure our customers leave the store with the right gear, inspired for whatever adventure they are embarking upon.” (Owner: Vinny McClelland. Established 1975. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2013)

Pack Rat Outdoor Center — Fayetteville, Ark. – “Our staff is involved:  they design our events, plan clinics and provide the highest level of customer service possible. We have so many talented team members who all contribute something unique to the Pack Rat. We work together to keep ideas fresh and make changes.” (Owners: Carolyn & Scott Crook. Established 1973. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2004.)

Sunlight Sports — Cody, Wyo. – “We are all about the experience in Northwest Wyoming. We don’t want to be generic in any way — we are the outdoor store that could only exist in this place. We are truly entrenched in our local community, giving at least 2% of our gross sales back to locally based charities that get youth outdoors every year.”  (Owners: Melissa & Wes Allen. Established 1971. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2012).

In the award category of GRASSROOTS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, honoring a new Grassroots member, nominees include:

Cascades Outdoor Store – Winthrop, Wash — “Cascades Outdoor Store tries to embody the spirit and practice of the model small town specialty retail store.  This centers around two things: offering a hand-curated selection of clothing and gear crafted for the outdoors, and an enthusiastic staff that goes out of its way to engage with every customer, sharing their expertise in every department of the store.” (Owners: Brian & Amy Sweet. Established in 2014. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2017).

Outdoor Gear Exchange  – Burlington, Vermont — “The two things that really make OGE special is the breadth of product selection and the awesome staff.  We stock gear for camping, hiking, biking, climbing, paddling, snow sliding and backyard adventures and do all with great breadth to try and address the needs of all users …. Our staff are all users and work to educate customers about the best choices they can make for their particular needs.” (Owners: Mike Donohue & Marc Sherman. Established in 1995. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2017).

Townsend Bertram & Co. – Carrboro, N.C. – “Our core values are adventure, community and passion, and guide our decision-making on every level. We take pride in making our shop inclusive and accessible for all types of adventurers. We’ve developed creative community partnerships with nonprofits and local businesses … Our community events always focus on accessibility and inclusion, like our free all levels monthly yoga, family camping trips, and community trash pick-ups.” (Owners: Audrey & the late Scott Bertram. Established in 1988. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Member since 2017).

In the award category of GRASSROOTS VENDOR OF THE YEAR, nominees include:

Astral – Asheville, NC. – “Astral’s roots run deep with outdoor specialty and we share similar DNA to many of our Grassroots retail partners … Our founder and many of our staff have worked in outdoor specialty retail, so our team truly knows the benefits of the specialty shopping experience.” (Owner & Sales Manager: Phillip Curry, Bryan Owen. Established 2002, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2010).

EXPED – Tacoma, Wash. – “EXPED supports specialty retail because it represents the highest form of the art of salesmanship and our customers deserve nothing less. This is why EXPED only sells its gear through specialty retail stores.” (Owner/Sales Manager: Ted Steudel. Established 1997, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2016.)

NEMO – Manchester, NH – “We passionately support specialty retail because it is essential for a healthy outdoor industry, a vital component of the outdoor community, and because there is no future for specialty brands like NEMO without specialty retail.” (Owner/Sales Manager: Cam Brensinger. Established 2002, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2013.)

Toad & Co – Santa Barbara, Calif. – “For over 22 years Toad & Co has been steadfastly committed to Outdoor Specialty Retail …It is our belief that Outdoor Specialty Retailers unify and connect people around a common cause:  the love for the outdoors.” (Owner & Sales Management: Gordon Seabury, Scott Whipps, & Nina Brito.  Established 1991, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 1998).

In the award category of GRASSROOTS SALES MANAGER OF THE YEAR, nominees include:  

Andy Burke – prAna; Carlsbad, Calif. – “Andy’s willingness to hear the good and the bad, stay in-tune with retailers and challenges in the market, show that Andy is dedicated to and passionate about being a part of Grassroots vendor community.” (Established 1992, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2010.)

Todd Givnish – Smartwool; Steamboat Springs, Colo. – “Todd is a thoughtful, strategic, and engaged sales manager …Todd takes initiative to gather feedback on retailer needs, get to know Grassroots, and continually strives to improve relationships and strengthen partnerships. Todd’s interesting blend of experience; industry and non-industry, vendor, retailer, and buyer, provides him unique perspective and knowledge that works to his benefit in his role at Smartwool.” (Established 1994, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 1998.)

Ryan Krusemark – KÜHL; Salt Lake City, Utah – “Ryan is very responsive to any issues or communication, positive or negative. He truly “gets specialty“, he aims to be a partner not just a vendor in our store”.  Ryan’s work has elevated KÜHL from vendor to true partner to Grassroots member retailers … Ryan truly cares about keeping specialty retail healthy because it’s vital to the success of KÜHL and the future of specialty retail in our industry.” (Established 1993, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2011).

Steve Talacki – Mountain Khakis; Jackson Hole, Wyo. – “Steve is one of the more thoughtful, open minded sales managers we work with on the Grassroots side. Always open for a tough discussion, (Steve keeps) specialty retailers at the forefront of discussions at Mountain Khakis. Steve constantly asks for feedback on what retailers are feeling in the market and how MK can adjust to meet their needs. These are not easy things to ask for and show the true mark of an engaged member of our vendor community that values the opinion of specialty retailers.” (Established 2003, Grassroots Vendor Partner since 2016.)

In the retailer recognition category of CREATIVE MARKETING/ADVERTISING CAMPAIGN, nominees include:

Mahoney’s Outfitters – Johnson City, Tenn.
(Owners: Dan & Sean Mahoney Established 1960. Grassroots Member since: 2014)
“Santa Calls”
“Getting Directions to Mahoney’s”
“Got it!”

Eagle Eye Outfitters – Dothan, Ala.
(Owners: Mark & Susan Anderson. Established 1999, Grassroots Member since 2012).
“Sale Sale Baby”
“Baby Got Deals”

In the retailer recognition category of COMMUNITY & EVENTS, nominees include:

Pack & Paddle – Lafayette, La. – We don’t view building community and hosting events as a way to draw a crowd or even as a direct way to sell products, but rather a way that we can bring authenticity to everything that we sell and a way to build a tribe of Pack & Paddle superfans.” (Owners: Becky and John Williams. Established 1974, Grassroots Member since 2010)

Alpine Shop – St. Louis, Mo. – “Alpine Shop’s clinics and events program has been introducing customers to the great outdoors since the 1980s. But when it comes to a business’s impact on it’s community, there are stats and there are stories.(Owners: Russell and Lisa Hollenbeck. Established 1973, Grassroots Member since 2002.)

Midwest Mountaineering – Minneapolis, Minn.- We get people to get outdoors more by creating an outdoor community they can belong to. Many of our events are social gatherings with free beer, wine, other beverages, food and live music. Our annual attendance at these events at our store is an estimated 24,000 outdoor people.” (Owner: Rod Johnson. Established 1970, Grassroots Member since 2006.)

In the retailer recognition category of MERCHANDISING MAGIC,  nominees include:

Denali – Guilford, Conn. – Our goal is to make people relax and to highlight the items we sell in the best way possible …We want people to pick things up, hold them in their hands and try them on, and hope to transport our customers from the hectic, fast-paced northeast corridor to a place where poking around, taking your time and savoring the moment is important and encouraged.”  (Owners: Chris Howe & Todd Raskin. Established 1994, Grassroots member since 2006).

The Toggery – Whitefish, Mont. – We create our store vibe and customer experience by finding uncommon pieces around the Northwest to display our merchandise. We use antiques or relatively ordinary items but give new life through an alternative use … Our love for antiques and eclectic pieces adds personality to our products and sales floor.” (Owners: Trek & Rene Stephens. Established 1947, Grassroots Member since: 2014).

Outside Hilton Head – Hilton Head Island, S.C. – We believe shopping should be a memorable experience.  Our customers walk into an interesting retail environment where they can explore every corner and discover something new and different at every turn.” (Owner: Mike Overton. Established 1979, Grassroots Member since 1995).


Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is an active, independent network of 64 independent retailers working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail.  With 132 storefronts across 37 states, Grassroots member retailers currently total approximately $325 million in annual sales. 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 www.grassrootsoutdoors.com.


Efficient, affordable and effective for every attendee, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect is the only national show designed specifically to improve retail buying results. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, the growing Grassroots Connect show is now in its 20th year, and attracts nearly 1,000 independent specialty retailers, vendor brands, media, and members of the outdoor industry community to each show. 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. Future confirmed dates for connect include Denver, Colorado (Nov. 3-7, 2018) and Knoxville, Tennessee (June 14-17, 2018). To request a retailer or vendor invitation, please go to http://www.grassrootsconnect.net/request-invitation