Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), Grassroots Outdoor Alliance (Grassroots) and Outdoor Retailer (OR) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) July 22 that outlines greater cooperation on providing education and other tangible business support to independent specialty retailers.

While Grassroots and OIA have worked together for years on a broad range of trade, corporate responsibility and public lands issues, the MOU marks a more formal agreement to pool resources aimed at mom and pop retailers that have played a critical role in building outdoor brands and fostering innovation deemed critical to the industry's long-term health.

Deliverables include:

  • Education: New training programs before, during and after OR. The three organizations are already collaborating to create an engaging, hands-on specialty retail educational event for OR Winter Market 2016.
  • OR Concierge Service: This new service will help specialty retailers register for OR Summer and Winter Market and secure improved housing, transportation and other services.
  • Curated Benefits: Grassroots will work closely with OIA to curate association programs and benefits specifically for the specialty retailer including education, training and research.

OIA will also convene a retail advisory group later this fall that will help shape the work OIA does on behalf of retailers. The group will be comprised of a diverse set of specialty retailers, including some Grassroots members.

Grassroots provides purchasing, networking and other services to independent outdoor retailers who operate over 100 independent specialty outdoor stores throughout North America. OIA seeks to serve more than 4,000 manufacturers, distributors, reps and retailers with consumer research, discounts on business services, networking and educational programming and by promoting industry interests in Washington D.C.

“The challenges outdoor specialty retailers are facing are well known. Growing urbanization, margin compression from online competitors, changing shopping habits and even weather-related issues have threatened traditional retail business operations,” said Amy Roberts, OIA executive director. “Over the years, the outdoor specialty retail market has become highly fragmented with intense competition from traditional sporting goods chains, mass merchandisers, catalog, internet and outdoor brand direct sales. OIA, Outdoor Retailer and Grassroots recognize the need to support these businesses as they play a critical role in the industry.”