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VOL. 132 | NO. 97 | Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Outdoors Inc. Opens Downtown Pop-Up Store

By Andy Meek

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Outdoors Inc. is trying something new for its sixth retail location, which opened its doors earlier this month at 100 Peabody Place Downtown.

The retailer, founded in 1974 and which sells gear to outdoors enthusiasts, will only be there through the end of August. It’s a pop-up shop that combines owner Joe Royer’s passion for selling quality apparel and equipment with the excitement of entering a new market – Downtown – and a realization that city centers are seen increasingly as magnets for people and activity.

JOE ROYER

“One thing I can tell you, being in business 45 years – what we’re doing right now will change in a couple of years, because it’s a constantly changing world we live in,” Royer said. “It’s always been that way.

“We’re very excited to be in Downtown Memphis. There’s a real trend all over the U.S., in Europe – cities and the downtown – the dense part of the city is where a lot of us really want to live, work and get our entertainment.”

Why not a permanent store, then, comparable to the other five, as opposed to a temporary presence? For Outdoors Inc., the new store is as much an opportunity as an experiment. The word Royer uses is “test,” to “see if it’s actually going to work in Downtown Memphis.”

It’s a new market for the company – the other locations include two on Poplar Avenue, one on Union Avenue, a store on Germantown Parkway, a store on National Street and another in Jackson, Tenn.

The pop-up store, at about 1,500 square feet, is a smaller addition to the company’s portfolio, and Royer said it’s spent the first week or so watching, studying what people buy, trying to understand what the right product mix should be.

If the test works, Royer says he can foresee the company making its Downtown presence into a permanent one. For now, the store will be open through Aug. 31 Monday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Downtown boosters, of course, welcome the company’s arrival.

“With the continuing growth in the residential population and the addition of neighbors like ServiceMaster, Downtown Memphis is becoming more of a draw for retailers,” said Downtown Memphis Commission president and CEO Terence Patterson. “Obviously, Outdoors Inc. is one of the premier retailers in the Memphis area, and we’re thrilled they’ve chosen a Downtown location for this test project.”

Royer says the pop-up shop will draw a mostly new class of customer for the business, people like tourists and business travelers. Still, catering to them – to recreational outdoors enthusiasts, as opposed to hard-core outdoorsmen and women – is something the company has spent years perfecting.

That has come from being in business long enough that many of Royer’s employees have also gone on to become owners of businesses like bike shops and outdoors stores, both here and elsewhere.

“When we started,” Royer said, “there were no cell phones. There were no fax machines. Business has changed quite a bit. People are still riding bikes. They were then. They’re still climbing the Smokies and hiking in the Ozarks and going on vacations in the Alps and the Rockies. But the way we conduct business is obviously continuing to evolve.

“We’re excited about embracing a new market. Both the Memphis Downtown business community and the tourists and business travelers. We’re very excited about it.”

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