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Backcountry North Joins Grassroots Outdoor Alliance as Retail Member

Backcountry North Joins Grassroots Outdoor Alliance as a Retail Member

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Grassroots Outdoor Alliance welcomes Backcountry North as our newest retail member!

The original Backcountry Outfitters store was opened in 1978 and the current owners, Tracy Mayer, Sandy and Susan Graham purchased the store in 2000. Since then, they’ve planned a steady and smart expansion plan with assistance from Steve Kosinski, who handles their marketing, retail development, website, e-tail development and visual merchandising.

The company will nearly triple its retail space in Michigan in just two years, having added a location in affluent downtown Birmingham last year, and upgrading their second location on US-31 in Traverse City to become their new flagship 10,000 square foot facility.

This kind of development highlights the ability of some smaller retailers to reinvest in their local communities. The location where the new Backcountry North will be located is right in the middle of the US-31 corridor, occupied primarily by much larger national brand retailers, but Backcountry has achieved its rapid growth during a recession while dealing in high-quality products. Owner Sandy Graham explains why: “If you want value for every dollar you spend, you must buy quality—only the rich can afford to buy stuff twice”.

“Recessions can be like a forest fire–both destructive and healthy”, says co-owner Tracy Mayer, “at first all you see is devastation, but room is created for growth by new startups as well as survivors”. Mayer directed the company’s expansion to Birmingham, and credits the availability of space created by the recession to the new business opportunity. “When we first came to Birmingham, there were many commercial spaces available in the downtown district”, she says, “but look at all the new local startups that have replaced those who left or failed. It shows that Birmingham is a solid, resilient community, and we are proud to be a part of that.”

Other circumstances that may have contributed to Backcountry’s success during the recession could be the higher cost of airline and other travel expenses, spurring more Michigan residents to rediscover playgrounds that exist right in their own backyard. Backcountry hosts mini adventures like the yearly “Dunes of Doom”, where customers and employees head out at night in the middle of winter for a hilly hike in technical snowshoes, or events like the well-attended “Kayak Symposium”, offering paddling instruction and the chance to paddle the newest boats.

Backcountry North is Michigan’s largest independent outdoor specialty retailer. 100% Michigan owned, they know their community and provide the service and products their customers are looking for.

The buyers from Backcoutnry North will be attending the Grassroots Early Show June 13 – 17, 2011 in Ogden Utah at the Ogden Eccles Conference Center.

We are very excited to welcome Backcountry North into Grassroots Outdoor Alliance and look forward to their contributions to our organization.

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance unites independent outdoor retailers as a strong voice to protect and promote the experience of outdoor enthusiasts across the United States. To learn more about our organization, visit