Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the national organization dedicated to the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail, will host learning sessions at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to increase awareness and understanding of the group’s unique goals and events.
The learning sessions come just over a month after a record-setting Grassroots Connect show held in Albuquerque NM, which saw double-digit percentage increases in both retailer and vendor attendance.
“The growth of the Connect show is thanks to all the attendees — particularly the vendor brands — who support the Grassroots vision of a true buyer-based show,” said Rich Hill, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. “By supporting this idea, they’re helping re-establish sales as the number one goal of a trade event, helping cool down the trade show marketing arms race, and helping keep their own expenditures within a sustainable range.”
The learning events at Outdoor Retailer Summer will be hosted in “The Camp” (Booth 38808). The main event is a panel discussion titled “What is the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance?” on Thursday at 1:30 pm. Additionally, Hill will join Outdoor Retailer show director Marisa Nicholson and Outdoor Industry Association executive director Amy Roberts for a question and answer session about the decision process for Outdoor Retailer show relocation on Wednesday at 3:30 pm.
A primary topic of the “What is the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance” panel discussion on Thursday will be the Grassroots Connect trade show, an ideally timed, invitation-only buying show for the specialty outdoor industry. Held twice a year and 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.
At the most recent Connect, the surge in attendance and interest was credited to its “buyer first” design: a heavy emphasis on return on investment for all attendees, as well as a strategic reduction of costs and distractions. Key buyer-first features at Connect include standardized closed-front booth designs which guarantee affordability and eliminate passing distractions during presentations.
“(Connect) is the best show we do all season. The appointments are meaningful, engaged and focused. It is more than just a selling show, but a show to have open and honest communication and find ways to work together to benefit both vendor and retailer,” said Steve Talacki, Mountain Khakis Director of Sales.
“(Connect) is more productive than any other show this industry attends,” said Andy Welling of Sherpa Adventure Gear.
“Being my first buying show experience, I was pleasantly surprised by how productive meetings were (at Connect), and how many folks I was able to connect with during evening events and meals,” said Libby Vedder, accessories buyer for Wild Iris Mountain Sports in Lander, Wyo.
Appointments made for attendees by Connect organizers – one of the many unique features of the show – were up 20 percent from the previous year, rising from 5,700 to 6,800.
Total attendance at Grassroots Connect was 968, an increase of 12 percent from the previous year. Show attendance included 336 retail store owners and retail staff, including 224 retail attendees from Grassroots Outdoor Alliance members and 112 attendees from invited retailers.
Vendor attendance hit the mark of 414, made up of 279 Grassroots vendor attendees and 135 invited exhibitor attendees – despite a decrease in invitations offered.
In addition to the double-digit growth for retailers and vendors, Grassroots Connect also saw a 40 percent increase in sales rep attendance.
“Sales reps are one of the best barometers of a show’s ROI. They go where the opportunity is,” added Hill. “Grassroots Connect knocks it out of the park in opportunity, convenience and ROI. People recognize how unique that is in the trade show world, and they’re really appreciative.”
Billed as “five days of learning, five days of business, and one big conversation about the growth and health of the outdoor industry,” the week-long Connect gathering included a compelling Education Day, with presentations on the impact of Amazon.com on direct sales as well as the latest information on the public lands debate.
Connect also included several annual award presentations, including:
• Grassroots Heritage Award to Wes Allen of Sunlight Sports in Cody, Wyoming – a previous Grassroots Outdoor Alliance president, and longtime Grassroots retailer.
• Grassroots Vendor of the Year to Patagonia.
• Grassroots Retailer of the Year to Summit Hut.
• Grassroots Most Innovative Retailer to Champaign Surplus.
• Grassroots Retailer Community Involvement Award to Great Outdoor Provision Company.
• Grassroots Rep Recognitions to Tom Hammond and Wendy Stanley of Adventure Marketing Group; John Dornfeld of Mountain Trading Company; Dana Caraway of Caraway & Co.; Phil Flamand of Flamand Sports; and Stephanie Stewart with Full Circle Group.