Get Out and Live Your Passion
Story by Ed McAlister | Photography by Nathan Sparks
It was 40 years ago when River Sports Outfitters made its debut in Knoxville. An avid boater in the 70s, I realized equipment was hard to find and drove to Kentucky one season to a store I knew to shop for my gear.
Before long, the manager of the store who I had grown to know encouraged me to consider opening a place in Knoxville to help those with an interest in the outdoors. When I came back from my visit, I drove down Sutherland, saw a foreclosure sign on a piece of property, and decided what my next chapter would be.
As with everything in life, there are cycles at River Sports. When we first opened the doors, boating was in high demand, but as the interests of our patrons grew, so, too, did our offerings. Camp gear, footwear, bikes, and clothing soon followed, and while outdoor clothing has become more mainstream, there’s still a technical aspect of it that you can really only find at an outdoor store.
By the 90s, boating was on the rise again; it’s ebbed and flowed ever since. East Tennesseans have proven their love for the water, and recently we’ve seen that materialize into a desire for lighter weight gear to make it easier to make time on the water, regardless of age or ability. We constantly follow the interests of our patrons to ensure our offerings match their needs.
Owning gear isn’t an option for everyone and so rentals remain a mainstay at River Sports. We have six locations where you can rent boats and gear to get out and explore. And our indoor rock gym offers a place to take on a new experience close to home.
For those that get into a life outdoors, it can be life changing. The places you go, things you see, people you meet while out on the trail or the water is like nothing else. I’m grateful that the Scouts instilled in me a love of camping and later canoeing. It foreshadowed how I would eventually live my life and serve my community.
River Sports is here to help connect you with what you love most. As we always say, it doesn’t matter whether you’re walking the greenways, paddling the Hiawassee, or hiking in the Smokies: Get Out and Live Your Passion.
Gold: Sporting Goods Store
2918 Sutherland Ave, Knoxville