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dnw outfitters: equipping jonesboro for the great outdoors
by Audrey Hanes, photo by Amy Long

In 2002, Dennis and Kay Noell opened a small, 1-000-square-foot sporting goods store on the side of their truck accessory shop. Today, the family business is the largest outdoor outfitter in the area, and it isn’t slowing down any time soon.

For more than 60 years, the Noell family has been in the business of selling.

“We come from a long generation of peddlers who carried merchandise with them in a truck,” said Dennis. “As things modernized, we went from peddling to being in sales. We were originally in oil and automotive. I went into sporting goods because I like to hunt.”
The couple, both natives of Jonesboro, got their start in 1987 when they opened a truck accessories shop. They went on to open DNW Outdoors 15 years ago, and the business has continued to grow ever since.

The hunting and fishing outfitter carries some of the best names in the business, such as Drake Waterfowl, Banded, Sitka, Lacrosse, Columbia, Huk, Nomad and many more. It even has 6,000-square-feet dedicated solely to DNW’s Amazon store, which was recently upgraded to Amazon Prime status.

“I have never stood still,” says Dennis. “I am always trying to do something different to grow our business. To grow today, you have to go online. For us, there’s already a lot of things in our industry online, so we really have to work to make people aware of that. We are working on a lot of stuff at one time. For us to keep growing, it will be in online sales.”

In the 30,000-square-foot store itself, the Noells and their staff try to have something for everyone.

“This is testosterone row right here,” said Kay of the business, which also includes a large truck accessory shop and a 12-lane indoor archery range in addition to the DNW retail space. “We do have some women’s clothing. My daughter worked for us when we started adding more women’s wear. We moved it next door for a while, and it evolved to Delta Traditions. We cater to the hunting women, and we let her handle the trendy things.”

As a business, DNW prides itself on going far beyond the sale of clothing and gear. Dennis says the business is all about personalized service from the minute customers step foot in their door and long afterwards.

“If we have someone walk in the door who’s never shot a bow in their life, we will fit them, take them to the range and teach them how to shoot it, adjust it to them personally and help them tune it up year after year,” said Dennis. “If you come in with a vehicle, whether you’re wanting a set of rain guards or to lift your truck up with new tires and wheels, we can make that happen. If you buy a big set of tires, we’ll do everything to make your tires fit your truck. We’re the oldest truck accessory business in town. Same with sporting goods.”

The self-described mom and pop shop is a family owned and operated business, a perk that Dennis and Kay say they both enjoy.
“You meet a lot of people because we were born and raised here,” said Kay. “We know so much of our clientele.

“As for Dennis and me, we have such separate duties; we really just get to meet up for lunch. I’m in accounting, and he does all the purchasing and managing employees. Our job descriptions are so different, but we both love what we do. I hope that this business will keep my kids here in Jonesboro.”

The Noells also focus on giving back to the community every chance they get. From being 14-year supporters of NEA Baptist Charitable Foundation’s Duck Classic to the Delta Waterfowl organization, the outdoor outfitter works with many local nonprofits and charitable events.

“We really care about Jonesboro; we always have,” said Dennis. “This is our home. We want our kids and our grandkids to be able to grow up here. We always try to give back and support our community the best we can.

“…We’ve seen a lot of businesses come and go. We were both born and raised in Jonesboro, so we try to support our community as much as possible.”

In addition to community support, the Noells credit their employees with making their business stand out. Dennis says that when he started, he was a one-man show, but he knew that quality employees would be what helped the business really grow.

“We have a lot of longtime employees we have hired out of high school or college and are in their 40s now; we are lucky to have them,” said Kay. “We hire a lot of kids who are at A-State and are flexible with their schedules.”

Dennis says that DNW Outdoors also works with teachers and marketing students at A-State to allow them opportunities to learn and work with a real business.

“We are fully invested in Jonesboro, and we’re not going anywhere,” said Kay. “This is home for us. We went to local schools, I went to A-State and our kids are at A-State. We love this city.”

DNW Outdoors, located at 1711 E. Parker Road, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call (870) 972-5827, visit dnwoutdoor.com or find DNW Outdoors on Facebook.