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Rich Hill steps down as Grassroots Outdoor Alliance president

After five years leading the retailer buying group, Hill is handing over the reins.


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Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, the outdoor industry’s largest consortium of independent retailers, announced this week that president Rich Hill will step down next month. No successor has been named.

Hill, who joined the retailer buying group in 2016, broadcast the decision to internal staff earlier this month, ahead of the group’s annual board retreat. This week, the news was communicated to Grassroots retail members in an email from Hill, in which Hill expressed his gratitude to the organization, saying there is “no specific reason, no other offer, no burning desire to go do something else” influencing his departure. It’s simply “the right time for me to move on and for a new leader to step up and steer the Grassroots strategic vision,” he wrote.

Hill will remain with Grassroots into April to oversee the group’s annual strategic planning session. He will officially depart on April 15.

Hill’s legacy at Grassroots

In the five years since Hill stepped in to lead Grassroots, the group has undergone marked change, doubling its retail membership, successfully navigating a pandemic, and modernizing its website and data-collection systems. What Hill said he feels most proud of, though, has been “elevating independent specialty retailers with better programs, events, and advocacy that benefit our stores, vendor partners, and ultimately our local communities.”

Read more: Grassroots, armed with new data-collection tool, publishes annual retail sales report

“There’s no secret sauce here,” Hill added. “The success of Grassroots is and always will be a team effort. Between the team and the membership, there’s a combination of legacy knowledge, remarkable resilience, and creative energy that is truly special.”

Following the announcement, industry members, Grassroots retailers, and Hill’s own staff expressed deep gratitude for his work over the years.

“We’re incredibly thankful for Rich’s dedication, vision, and energy,” said Emily White, vice chair of Grassroots. “We were fortunate to bring him into the Grassroots family, we learned a ton together, and we’re sorry to be saying goodbye. His commitment and leadership have been integral to our success.”

Read more: Grassroots specialty shops grew 29 percent in sales last year, according to new report

Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City, Calif., responded to Hill’s announcement with a simple but impactful message: “You’re a hero, Rich. You’ll be missed, and we’re grateful for all you’ve added.”

Others, including Scott Brown, owner of The Base Camp in Billings, Mont., praised Hill for his leadership and skill in building community. “You’re a great collaborator and used your skills to bring GOA members and our vendors together on issues,” Brown wrote. “You are leaving us stronger than ever.”

Grassroots has begun its search for a new president, with Hill’s assistance.