The Grassroots Outdoor Alliance on Nov. 9 – Nov 13th , held their first Fall Buying Show at Stone Mountain, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, at the Marriott Evergreen Conference Center. Grassroots has provided a summer buying show for 10 years near Salt Lake City.“This new fall show was designed to showcase our top 12 outerwear & sportswear vendors,” explains Roanne Miller, President of Grassroots. Miller also adds, “our membership was seeking a solution to all the independent mini-shows and rep appointments that were taking place during such a mission-critical time in the Fall Season. At the show, our membership was able to see 12 full line presentations for Fall 2011, all in two and a half days. Appointments were up to four hours per vendor.” Vendors who attended this year’s show include: Marmot, Horny Toad, Nau, Salomon, Prana, Patagonia, Mountain Hardwear, SmartWool, ExOfficio, Arc’teryx, Outdoor Research and Columbia Sportswear.
“Our retail membership embraced the new show,” according to Dawson Wheeler, Board Member and Chairman of the Vendor Committee. “We had a 94% attendance rate with our membership. For a first year show in a new location, the Board could not be more pleased.”
Horny Toad President Gordon Seabury stated that the show “was a tremendous opportunity to spend quality time with our leading specialty retail partners, gain a better understanding of their needs on the front lines, and make sure our priorities are aligned to support those needs.” Matt Sims, long-time sales rep with Patagonia, added that “the Grassroots show in Stone Mountain was truly one of the best shows that we have participated in. From an organizational side, it was perfect. The Stone Mountain Lodge was a perfect venue with all the right amenities and a very conducive atmosphere to conduct very profitable meetings with our dealers. Certainly one of the side benefits was the location. Hiking and biking trails as well as the huge lake on property gave all the outdoor enthusiasts recreational opportunities to relieve the stress of 3 days of meetings. I was really pleasantly surprised with the attendance at the show, and I hope we can keep it going for future seasons. Tom Mrotek of Appalachian Outdoors echoed Patagonia’s comments by saying, “Any show where you can trail run from your hotel and greet the sunrise on top of a mountain with one of your reps--but still make it to an 8 am line showing--can’t be bad.
Dawson Wheeler elaborates: “The Grassroots Early Show offered a focused look at our major soft-goods vendors that enable us to meet their earliest deadlines and provide feedback to the vendor from an independent retailer’s perspective. Since we can meet with both our reps and the vendor’s sales manager in a private setting, the show is immeasurably more effective than other regional or even national shows.”
“This show was a test by both our retail members and our vendor partners to determine best business practices and gage the effectiveness of a Fall Show. I am certain from the feedback at this point that all parties found it a very productive use of time,” Wheeler states. “Our membership sees value in buying a line with other Grassroots accounts; we have learned to trust each other and be highly proactive with our questions to both the vendors as well as our peers. Again, this speaks to the value of our group and the power of open feedback during the buying process. We simply trust each other!
Andy Welling, Senior VP of Sales at Marmot, states: “Grassroots has always been an innovative partner, and the new fall show at Stone Mountain is a great example of their industry leadership. Marmot was proud to be invited to bring our products and team to their key specialty retailers, allowing us to keep our fingers on the pulse of specialty. The show was extremely well-organized and well-run.”
“The Mission with our membership-- both vendor and retailer alike-- is to build an organization that supports Specialty retailing. Our members have become very consistent with their support with our vendor partners and see them as the first stop in our buying process,” Miller explains. “We are also very pleased to announce two new vendor partners attending the show, Arc’Teryx and Columbia. Both in different ways are addressing Specialty retailing head-on and with a highly open and collaborative model, as are all our other vendor partners. This model has our membership very excited.”
Miller closes by saying, “The addition of our partnership with Rick MacKenzie, CEO of MacKenzie Exhibits, shows how truly important we view presenting the highest-quality show venue as possible to both groups of partners, retail and vendor alike. We all have a stake in this process. That’s what sets Grassroots apart from many others. We are working to build an organization based on commitment.”