Outdoor Industry Experience?

  • A lot of us spent some time (or still are) in the Outdoor Industry.

    Mine started and ended early. In high school and the first year of college I worked at a place called "Backwoods" in North Dallas. After getting my degree several years later, I went to work in the Wichita, KS store as assistant manager, then wound up managing the Norman, OK store for a year before moving on to mechanical engineering.

    This was ca. 1978-1981. It was while in Norman that I hooked up with Duane Raleigh, Doug Robinson and their friends. Mark Herndon (aka Base104) was a really good friend for a few short years. That was when I found out what really good climbers could do.

    When I was in Dallas, we had a North Face rep (pre-NF Booming) named Bill. In some ways I wish I would have tagged his coat tail and gotten more involved in the outdoor industry. I'm always a bit envious when the subject of the OR convention comes up.

    So, what's your story?

  • The summer of 1958, I think, I drove around Jackson Hole with Chouinard searching trash dumps for old stove piping, etc. that he could use in his shop in California. 😎

  • My adult working life was in the outdoor industry. With a partner, I bought a small outdoor shop in Moscow Idaho in July 1973 & after 10 mostly fun years & some considerable growth, then considerable reverses, sold it to a different partner in 1983 for the net worth of merchandise & fixtures. The Moscow Store, about 1974. REI it was not.


    Happily, he did well, & paid me off over 4 years, which paved the way for my new career as an Outdoor Industry sales rep in the Northern Rockies. I worked for a gaggle of small companies on commission on all the sales into my territory. For 3 years, I lost money, broke even in the 4th & made a good-living for the next 26 years. Unfortunately, I drove 45,000 to 50,000 miles a year during my first 20 years as a traveling salesman, which did not leave me much spare time for recreation. However, I mostly worked for & sold to good people & had quite a bit of fun along the way.

    I only wrecked one car during my travels, but walked away from that one. The car was totaled after a frightening front flip, when I was run off a remote snowy Wyoming highway by an oncoming truck. I made some good friends, & only a few life-long enemies, and although companies that I worked for sometimes went out of business, only one fired me. Hell, I even got a retirement party at the 2015 Winter Outdoor Retailer Show from the last large company I represented.
    Ray retirement party..JPG

  • That's pretty cool Ray. Seems like you've done okay. Five acres in heaven and all.

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