Outdoor Retailers

River Sports Outfitters' top picks from Outdoor Retailer

In this retailer report, the founder of a Tennessee shop dishes on what apparel and footwear excites him most from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2018.

Ed McAlister started River Sports Outfitters 36 years ago in Knoxville, Tennessee.Nick Cote

After 36 years running River Sports Outfitters, Founder Ed McAlister knows what resonates with customers—but he always keeps an open mind when seeing new gear and brands. Nearly 50 brands—from A to Z and from big name to up-and-coming—mix together on his shelves and in the online store. And at this show, McAlister made connections with two new partners he’s hoping to offer to his shoppers. 

River Sports is going strong with two storefronts, a climbing center, and six rental locations throughout the Knoxville community. Rentals have been in high demand, so much so that River Sports opened a new location in Lenoir City for paddlers and kayakers to try out new boats. 

“Our rental program has been a great asset,” he says. “It fits in with our mission to get people outside, whether out on the water or hiking.” 

When McAlister isn’t on the water or on expeditions in the Grand Canyon, he’s road biking, mountain biking, and training for his next triathlon.

Lole packable down, Watson's Baselayer, Kathmandu pack

What new gear are you most excited about so far?

1. Lolë Packable Down

“It’s unique and offers different colors. That brand is going to be one that rises up.”

2. Kathmandu Connect
Smart Pack 28L

“This pack is the future. It has the charger capability built into it, and people always need to charge.”

3. Watson’s Men’s HEAT Long Sleeve Crew

“We’re bringing them on. We like the underwear and baselayers. It’s a good price point.” 

This article was originally published in Day 4 of The Daily (Winter Market 2018).