Grassroots Connect returns to Knoxville with unique ‘retailer first’ trade show experience

An affordable, efficient show for independent specialty retailers
Publish date:

KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE – February 7, 2018 

Grassroots Connect

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 1000 total attendees with its remarkable 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, NY).

“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 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, WV).

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


Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is an active, independent network of 66 independent retailers working together for the health and growth of specialty outdoor retail. With 133 storefronts across 36 states, Grassroots member retailers currently total approximately $325 million in annual sales. Through data collection and analysis, direct member support, specialty events and deep vendor partnerships, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is creating both a vision and roadmap for the long-term success of independent specialty retail. Grassroots Outdoor Alliance is also recognized as a catalyst for the success of its retailers and vendor partners; an advocate for specialty independent retail; a promoter of education and community within the specialty channel; and a key influencer of the national outdoor industry. For more information on Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, please go to


Efficient, affordable and effective for every attendee, Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Connect is the only national show designed specifically to improve retail buying results. Scheduled as early as possible in the buying cycle, the growing Grassroots Connect attracts nearly 1,000 independent specialty retailers, vendor brands, media, and members of the outdoor industry community to each show. Connect provides a highly efficient opportunity for retailers, reps and vendors to present, discuss, plan and collect pre-season orders. Cost-effective and simple, Connect is both an incubator and testing ground for the greater outdoor industry. Invited retailers receive a per attendee reimbursement to offset their travel costs. Future confirmed dates for connect include Knoxville, Tennessee (June 14-17, 2018) and Denver, Colorado (Nov. 4-7, 2018). To request a retailer or vendor invitation, please go to


Drew Simmons


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