Grassroots Connect Blooms with Gathering of Retailers, Brands

Grassroots Connect, the twice-annual buying show of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, returns June 11-15 to the Knoxville Convention Center, bringing together more than 400 retail buyers from 206 retail doors nationwide with nearly 10,000 pre-scheduled appointments.

With 215 total brands in attendance – including 77 in the Discovery Marketplace –  this spring’s Connect will be the largest collection of vendors ever gathered by the group.

The breadth of attendance is accompanied by broadly positive sales among Grassroots’s 100 member retailers – which recently reported sales increases of more than four percent in the last 12-month period.

The strong support from retailers and vendors can be attributed to the long-term consistency of show dates, which are returning to early June for the 25th consecutive year, dating back to the first Grassroots buying show in 1998 in Lake Tahoe, Calif.

“Grassroots Connect originally honed in on early dates as a planning convenience for vendors and retailers, but the June timing of the event has become even more valuable in the last few years as order deadlines have moved up and windows have shrunk for available showing time,” said Gabe Maier, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance.

“Both retailers and brands are acutely aware that there’s only so many events that people can go to and only so much time that they can be away from their core business,” Maier continued. “That shared recognition among all attendees is a key reason that Grassroots Connect is such an effective event.”

Grassroots Connect begins June 11) with exhibitor move-in and education day and will be followed by four days of pre-scheduled show meetings, lunchtime learning sessions and evening special events.).  A sampling of highlights and new features at the show include:

  • June 11 – The Grassroots Discovery Marketplace will return at more than double the size from its inaugural event last fall, and will be open to buyers from 4 to6 pm and to all attendees from 6 to 7 pm. This curated brand gathering is structured to introduce prospective new vendors to the Grassroots community of member retailers, guest retailers and sales representatives. Its “meet and greet” format includes a simple booth, limited product selection and a casual structure with no pre-scheduled appointments.
  • June 12 – The Grassroots Connect Open House Happy Hour will run from 5 to7 pm on the main show floor, providing additional discovery and networking opportunities as the traditionally closed booths of the show are opened to retailers.
  • June 14 – Keen Klean Up, partnering with Keep Knoxville Beautiful, Legacy Parks Foundation and River Sports. Described as an “urban canyoneering adventure,” the green-up effort will begin at 6:15 pm.

A collection of key links for the upcoming June Grassroots Connect is available here, including a daily schedule of learning sessions, social networking opportunities, and special events.

Listen to the Grassroots podcast interview, with Maier and Grassroots Director of Membership and Education Dana Howe, as they describe details of the event.

For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, go to