In Praise of Specialty Outdoor Stores

2:08 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "In Praise of Specialty Outdoor Stores"

It’s the season of holiday shopping, and I’d wager that most of you are doing a fair bit of it online. Online shopping has many benefits: a wider selection of gear, the ability to compare prices, convenience. But don’t forget your local specialty outdoor store. A good one with knowledgeable salespeople can offer an extraordinary level of personal service. They can help fit you w...

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5:16 p.m. on December 15, 2008 (EST)
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AMEN!! If it is anything beyond some simple item I already know (usually replacing something I have used and liked, but lost/broke/loaned out and never got back/etc), I find it is essential to go to a local specialty shop. This holds whether it is outdoor gear, electronics, or whatever. Even when I am an "expert", it pays to get a second opinion from someone who might well know about an alternative I haven't seem yet, or who can give me a few hints on how to make something work better.

Unfortunately, the local specialty shop is a disappearing breed. Here in the SFBay Area, 30-40 years ago we had a dozen excellent climbing/backpacking/backcountry ski shops and another dozen good ones. Currently, we have 2 excellent shops, plus 10 REIs with too many inexperienced clerks and 3 or 4 knowledgable people, a dozen Any Mountains and Sports Authorities and Sports Basements (with clerks who don't know which hand the baseball glove goes on or the pressure to pump a soccer ball), plus several chains of Big Box sports stores.

Support your local specialty shop!

10:30 p.m. on December 16, 2008 (EST)
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I agree, Bill. When I can - the store is a long ride away from where I live, too long for a quick visit - I shoot across Boston to the North Shore and to Moor and Mountain. Straight and experienced talk.

10:35 a.m. on December 18, 2008 (EST)

Couldn't agree more. And if you are new to an area ask around at trailhead/fireside chats, the local ski patrol/MSAR members, etc and get a few opinions. Then, as with any major decision on outdoor equipment, use your best judgment and shop around then buy when you are comfortable with the people, the shop, and the equipment. Expensive gear will not necessarily save your life but cheap gear may cost you - your life.

What you buy is no one's fault but yours so own your decisions. If you’re ever in Boise, Idaho you can count on Greenwood’s Ski Haus (since the 50's when I was a teen) and The Benchmark (since the 60's; mountaineering, bkpking, and general outdoors-ie stuff).

Enjoy God's handy work and let it snow, let it snow, LET IT SNOW !!!

2:21 p.m. on December 21, 2008 (EST)
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This is a great article and prompts the question.

Could we create a list of specialty stores to be featured somewhere on the site? You could have a submit thread and then only allow admin to expand the list. This would not be an endorsement of any particular store but allow Trailspace users to find local specialty stores they may have been unaware of.

9:06 p.m. on December 30, 2008 (EST)
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BigSmoke, sorry I missed your post earlier. I think that's a great idea! Ultimately I can see having it as a structured, searchable database, but we could easily get the ball rolling with a thread in the forums. Maybe under Gear Selection?

3:40 p.m. on December 31, 2008 (EST)
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I am happy to report that the Charleston SC area now has two outdoor specialty stores, Half Moon Outfitters & The Backpacker.
For a while we didn't have one at all, I had to drive two hours to The Backpacker in Columbia SC.
I really appreciate our local stores.

5:33 p.m. on January 7, 2009 (EST)
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Thanks for all the comments and to BigSmoke for the excellent suggestion.

For now I've made a thread at the top of the Gear Selection forum for store recommendations:

This could become a very useful tool. Please add your own recommendations with details there.

Eventually we'll aim to move it into a database format for greater usability, but this should get it started.


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