The acquisition of Rock/Creek Outfitters for a second time in two years will bring the outdoor specialty shop closer to its community roots, President Chad Wykle said Friday.

Gearhead Outfitters, a privately-held retailer in Arkansas, announced on Thursday the acquisition of Tennessee-based Rock/Creek and Uncle Dan’s Outdoor Store in Illinois.

The move comes 16 months after Uncle Dan's and Camping World acquired Rock/Creek and just shy of two years after Camping World acquired Uncle Dan's. At that time, customers and business partners told SNEWS that they were worried the corporate ownership would change the culture of Rock/Creek, a cornerstone outdoor store.

Rock/Creek president shares more about the acquisition

SNEWS reached out to Wykle to talk about the second acquisition in 16 months and his hopes for the future of Rock/Creek.

Under Camping World's ownership, Wykle said, "Customers expressed, 'What happens to a specialty storefront that's dedicated in the community when they're absorbed by a corporate entity?' There was worry on our end too. We did a lot of work to make sure we didn't lose the things that made us special to our communities."

Camping World's central focus is RVing, which didn't exactly align with Rock/Creek's small specialty concept, Wykle added.

"We're looking forward to family-owned and operated business again," he said.

The new owner, Gearhead Outfitters, was founded in 1997 by Ted Herget, who desired to bring the active mountain lifestyle to his hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas. He started in his friend’s living room and now has 10 stores across the Midsouth and will now operate Rock/Creek's seven locations and Uncle Dan's six locations, plus the e-commerce businesses.

“We are passionate about brick and mortar retail, the outdoor industry, our communities, and our mission,” Herget said in a news release. “The opportunity to acquire Rock/Creek and Uncle Dan’s has provided a unique opportunity for all three brands to align under those values as a family of outdoor specialty retailers. Our highest priority is to maintain the integrity of these companies, the brands we carry, and to expand the influence of the outdoor industry.”

Wykle said it's already been a seamless relationship with Herget. "There are so many similarities between the way that they've operated their business in the Midsouth—their commitment to culture and community—and the way we have at Rock/Creek."

Wykle will continue serving as president of Rock/Creek. The Atlanta, Georgia, and Schaumburg, Illinois, stores are slated to become new shops under Camping World's ownership.

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