Nantahala Outdoor Center, a privately held, employee-owned company opens its brand-new experiential retail environment in Gatlinburg, TN Easter weekend, April 2–4. A $4 million project, NOC’s Great Outpost intends to increase participation in the outdoors while providing a new attraction centered around Gatlinburg’s prime location at the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
NOC’s Great Outpost occupies an anchor position in Gatlinburg’s downtown strip, one of the most heavily visited destinations in the Southeast hosting an estimated 14 million visitors annually. Creating approximately 55 new jobs and sharing a border with the national park, the Great Outpost has applied for LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), becoming the first of its kind in Gatlinburg and Sevier County.
“A downturn is a terrible thing to waste,” comments NOC’s 31-year-old CEO Sutton Bacon.
“This project exemplifies our company’s determination to adapt and innovate through the recession. We are creating new product offerings and refining operational infrastructure to gain strategic advantage in our marketplace.”
Aiming to become Gatlinburg’s outdoor activity access point, NOC’s Great Outpost offers a diverse range of family-oriented activities in and around the national park like whitewater rafting, kayaking, guided fishing, hiking and nature tours. Additionally, this outdoor concierge service also provides assistance and information for visitors planning their own adventures in the park. Interactive features on the region’s rich natural history connect guests not only with their mountain surroundings, but also with outdoor volunteer clubs and conservation groups that protect the Smokies. The Great Outpost also houses a 25- foot climbing wall, a swinging rope bridge and a “bear den” play area for kids. Stocked with a selection of top outdoor apparel and gear from The North Face, Columbia, Teva and more, the store also features the largest selection of souvenirs in town.
Each year, NOC is visited by more than half a million guests and contributes nearly $48 million to the economy of western NC—where the company is based—making it the nation’s largest outfitter. NOC plans a grand opening celebration on April 2, timed to coincide with the seasonal start-up of the company’s outdoor offerings. As early as the grand opening, guests will be able to raft the Smokies’ Class III-IV Pigeon River and embark on numerous adventures including hiking, fishing and more.