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NOC to launch major new presence in Gatlinburg

Nantahala Outdoor Center is planning a major new outfitters store in Gatlinburg, tapping into the hub of one of the Smokies’ most bustling tourism markets.

NOC will call the 18,000-square-foot flagship retail store the Great Outpost. The new store will occupy an anchor position in Gatlinburg’s downtown shopping and entertainment district, which draws more than 14 million visitors annually. It will feature a wide selection of top outdoor apparel, camping, climbing, cycling, paddling, hiking and travel brands. It will become the largest retail store in Gatlinburg and add 55 new jobs.

The push not only marks a foray into a new geographic market, but also NOC’s continued diversification beyond rafting into all forms of outdoor adventure.

The Great Outpost will serve as a launching pad for whitewater rafting, whitewater and flatwater kayaking, fly-fishing, guided hiking, mountain biking, outdoor education classes and nature tours in the Smokies. It will also feature educational exhibits on outdoor education, the environment, and connect guests with outdoor clubs and conservation groups that help protect the Smokies.

The new store will follow green principles, including the prestigious LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council that certifies buildings for green design, construction, and energy efficiency.

NOC is the largest outfitter in the nation with half a million visitors every year.

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NOC lauded as business hero during recession

The major venture into a new market during a recession landed NOC’s President and CEO Sutton Bacon a spot in the “Heroes of Small Business” Congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., last week.

“A downturn is a terrible thing to waste,” Bacon told the Congressional Committee on Small Business.

Throughout Bacon’s testimony he emphasized “innovating through the recession” by creating new product offerings and refining operational infrastructure to gain strategic advantage in the marketplace. The committee’s objective in the hearing was to examine the important role small businesses play in creating jobs and growing the economy.

According to a recent Western Carolina University study, NOC contributes $48 million to the economy of WNC and supports over 579 full-time jobs in a region that still reeling from a loss of traditional manufacturing jobs.

Bacon’s testimony emphasized the importance of outdoor recreation as a regional economic driver. According to the Outdoor Industry Association — of which Bacon is a board member — the outdoor industry sustains 6.5 million jobs and contributes $730 billion to the nation’s economy.

In his talk, Bacon also emphasized NOC’s commitment as a “green” business, and it’s dedication in connecting youth with nature and the outdoors.

Bacon’s testimony and more information on NOC’s Great Outpost are available at

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