Grassroots Outdoor Alliance names winners of 2024 Outdoor Specialty Awards

July 9, 2024

The Mountaineer wins Retailer of the Year, Patagonia named Vendor Partner of the Year, River Rock Outfitter earns Community Giveback Award.

RENO, Nev. (July 9, 2024)/OUTDOOR SPORTSWIRE/ – Members of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, named The Mountaineer in Keene, N.Y. as its Retailer of the Year and Patagonia as its Vendor Partner of the Year in June as part of its 2024 Grassroots Outdoor Specialty Awards.

The awards, which recognize and celebrate business successes in the outdoor industry, were announced in June at the Grassroots Connect Show in Reno, Nev. In addition, River Rock Outfitter in Fredericksburg, Va., earned a new award for retailers — Community Giveback.

The Grassroots Outdoor Specialty Awards are based on peer data collected from Grassroots Outdoor Alliance members in multiple areas. Vendors provide feedback on the outdoor retail community and retailers provide feedback on vendor partners. The awards, which are revitalization and elevation of a program Grassroots oversaw until 2020, celebrate and recognize successes in business, advocacy, community action and philanthropy among Grassroots retailers and vendors.

“The Grassroots Outdoor Specialty Awards recognize and celebrate the hard work our retailers and vendors are constantly doing to set the standards of business in the outdoor industry,” said President Gabe Maier. “Our goal with these is to foster peer-to-peer acknowledgment, create closer connections within our community, strengthen retailer relationships, and build enduring ties between retailers and brands.”

The three award winners were selected for:

  • The Mountaineer leads a store with a unique personality, an exceptional customer experience, and a commitment to the community, as well as contributing significantly to the Grassroots community. Specifically, The Mountaineer accumulated an average score of 4.08 (out of 5) across the four areas of vendor ratings (assortment planning, store personality, pursuing opportunity, and vendor feedback) which was the highest of all stores. In addition, The Mountaineer gave back 2% of gross sales and volunteered 250 hours to its local community in 2023 and maintains excellent industry credit.
  • Patagonia provides innovative, well-made products to its customers, has a sales team that strongly supports specialty retailers, and models a successful strategy that is friendly to specialty retailers. Specifically, Patagonia accumulated an average score of 4.38 (out of 5) across the three areas of retailer ratings (product, sales / service, and collaboration / support) which was the highest of all vendors.
  • River Rock Outfitter demonstrates outstanding community involvement through local partnerships, volunteer work, charitable contributions, and a commitment to community betterment. There were many contributions that River Rock has made in its community, including: being lead on the ‘Project Green Homes’ which supports clean and sustainable housing in Kathmandu, continued implementation of its ‘GirlsGO!’ initiative, giving back 5% of gross sales to support its local community in 2023, and volunteering over 2,000 staff hours to support local projects in 2023.

In addition, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance members selected winners in several additional and new category awards for products, sales and service, as well as collaboration and support:

  • Zach Branson, managing partner at Mountain Source in Evergreen, Colo, and Alex Cavner, territory manager for Adventure Marketing Group in Asheville, N.C., were recognized for Excellence in Sales Representation.
  • Salewa was recognized for Excellence in Footwear, with a specific emphasis on strong retailer support through rep assistance, clinics, and product knowledge.
  • Nemo Equipment was recognized for Excellence in Hardgoods & Accessories for consistently producing well-made, functional and innovative products that help retailers find success in their stores.
  • Mountain Hardwear won the award for Excellence in Apparel & Softgoods, with success hinging on strong support, appropriate specialty-friendly brand strategies, and strong relationships between retailer and brand.
  • Playmakers, Okemos, MI, earned the award for Retailer Growth, with success over the last year resulting from innovative business strategies and demonstrating outstanding growth in a competitive marketplace.

In revitalizing its award program, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance established a new multi-sector awards committee, which vetted data provided by the retail and vendor community to select the winners. That committee consisted of retailers Lisa Hollenbeck (The Alpine Shop; St. Louis, Mo.), Josh Haring (The Mountain Air; San Luis Obispo, Calif.), Ed McAlister (River Sports Outfitters; Knoxville, Tenn.); brand managers Ken Taylor (The North Face), Tracy Collins (Exped) and Jeff Sermak (CamelBak); and sales representatives Kurt Smith (Top Gun Sales) , BJ Brewer (Vim Sales Group) and Mike Felix (Midcoast Outdoor Sales).

Nominees for the Grassroots Awards were determined based on results from the 2023 Grassroots membership and vendor studies, Grassroots sales and financial reporting, and feedback collected through various surveys.

Award winners were announced during lunch on Day 1 of the Grassroots Connect show. The show saw record attendance with 144 participating brands at Connect, 108 brands at Discovery Marketplace (hosted Day 0, Sunday, June 9), and 146 attending independent outdoor retail stores. Grassroots organizers tracked more than 8,600 hours of appointments over the four days at Connect which was an 8 percent increase over the Spring 2023 Connect event.

The next Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect show will take place in Kansas City, Mo., Nov. 11-14, 2024.

About Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is a retailer-owned active network of 101 independently owned outdoor retailers and 66 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 Grassroots’ twice-annual legacy show experience that spans four 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 schedule for upcoming Grassroots Connect shows include Kansas City, Mo. (Nov. 11-14, 2024). 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 three-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 November 10, 2024 (Kansas City, MO.). For more information, please go to https://connect.grassrootsoutdoors.com/overview-2.

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