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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Grassroots Connect Returns to Knoxville 

Grassroots Connect, the four-day national buying show designed around the business needs of independent specialty outdoor retailers, will return to the Knoxville Convention Center, June 14-17, 2018. Open to all qualifying retailers, Connect is anticipated to attract more than 1,000 total attendees with its combination of affordability, efficiency and hyper-focused business elements.

Connect is hosted by the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, an active and independent network of 66 independent retailers working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail.

“The needs of the retail buyer were our first consideration in designing Connect, and the result is a fundamentally different show experience from what people are used to,” said Dana Howe, Grassroots Retailer Relations Manager. “One of the biggest differences is that appointments for all attendees are scheduled in advance, which maximizes the productivity for both buyers and exhibitors. Our retailers let us know when they want to show up, who they want to see, and then they’re booked with business-focused meetings from the moment they walk in till the time they head back to their stores.”

One of the most obvious benefits for Connect retailers is the travel reimbursement, which makes the show immediately affordable.

The ease-of-attendance continues in the scheduling process, as Grassroots Connect organizers pre-book more than 6,000 appointments per show between retailers and vendors.  At last fall’s Connect, more than a third of attending retailer buyers were booked solid for the entire four-day event.

And to make retailer appointments as effective as possible, the Connect show floorplan is limited to closed booths with quiet and private meeting spaces. No entertainment or hospitality events are permitted on the show floor, and the environment is more reminiscent of a working library than a happy hour.

“Connect is a place to connect with people and products in an environment conducive to gaining a more thorough understanding of what it’s all about. Reflecting on our own business, the Connect show feels less like industry and more like the calling that brought us to the outdoors in the first place,” said Rich Gottleib of Rock & Snow (New Paltz, N.Y).

“Connect is pretty unique in the way it combines an intimate, small-show environment with national business opportunities. We had access to decision makers and to national trends (like Locally.com) that we don’t normally see.  And the retailer dinner was really a highlight — we sat with business owners from other parts of the country and got to talk to them about their stores, about themselves and about new ideas. We never get to do that. We never slow down enough,” said Charles Woody of Little River Trading Company (Maryville, Tenn.)

“At Connect, I discovered an entirely new trade show model. First, my appointments were booked for me which saved a huge chunk of time. Second, it was quiet and focused, and the ‘three-ring circus element’ was non-existent. Fewer interruptions + fewer distractions = higher productivity!” said Maura Kistler of Water Stone Outdoors (Fayateville, W.V).

For more information about Grassroots Connect, or to apply for retailer credentials, please contact Dana Howe, Grassroots Retailer Relations Manager, at dana@grassrootsoutdoor.com.

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