Your Local Retail Shop: Mountain Supply
Our Local Retail Shop Series highlights local gear shops and tells their stories. We chat with shop owners to find out what makes their shop unique and how they serve their local communities.
Shop Name: Mountain Supply
Location: Bend, OR
General Manager & Buyer: Kevin Ganey
Bend, Oregon is well-known for being a playground for hikers, backpackers, rock climbers, mountain bikers, rafters, skiers, snowboarders, and more! So, it’s no surprise we found Mountain Supply, a rad gear shop located right in town. This shop has an impressive lineup of gear and also services the PCT thru hikers coming through town as well. We had the opportunity to chat with Kevin Ganey, Mountain Supply’s General Manager and Buyer, to get the full scoop.
What’s the story behind Mountain Supply?
Mountain supply has been in business since 1980 and still under the sole ownership of Trudy Williams. The shop has been the core local mountain spot for climbers, mountaineers, campers, and backpackers. We’ve been in this same location since 1993 and we position ourselves by carrying some of the best brands in the industry, being experts in the gear we sell, and sharing our local knowledge about our backyard. More recently positioned ourselves as a little bit more of a specialty outdoor retailer in Bend since there are other large outdoor retailers in the area as well. We are not only a source for gear but we have a really great staff that are super knowledgeable and are here to help guide our customers in getting the best gear around.
What got you started in the outdoor industry?
I grew up working on a ski shop floor back East. In my mid-20s I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my career and with a background in business and a love of the outdoors, I decided to pack up and move out to Bend to be a ski bum for a little bit. Then through different opportunities with an outdoor e-commerce brand in Bend and working for Mountain Supply, I kind of had the “aha moment” of combining the two to make Mountain Supply fire on all cylinders. I wanted to keep my passion for the outdoors, play outside of the workplace, but also have the workplace be a place where we can play as well. That’s what really kept me in the outdoor industry.
I now work as the General Manager and Buyer at Mountain Supply, with the Williams family as owners. They kind of gave me the keys to run the show how I see fit. The last 5 or 6 years have had quite an increase of participation in the outdoor marketplace which has been great to see.
What sets Mountain Supply apart?
First and foremost, it’s our staff that really sets us apart. Not only are we trying to curate a welcoming atmosphere at Mountain Supply and a really relaxed sales floor, but our staff is really knowledgeable in regards to our products. Where we are located in Bend also makes us really unique. Lastly, the brands that we are able to bring into Mountain Supply are equally important.
I don’t think that we would be where we are and continue to do what we do without some of our other larger competitors in the marketplace as they can be the first step for people getting into the outdoors. But, by all means, once they start to get deeper, they find their way into Mountain Supply for a little bit more of those specialty goods that cater to a higher echelon of products that are more specialized and niche. We curate a selection of specialty, high-end brands that are better quality, last longer, and that customers will appreciate over the long term. Especially as they decide to invest more in those specific activities that we support here at Mountain Supply.
Tell us about PCT thru hikers coming through your shop and how you support them.
We are very close to the trail, especially this year with a lot of people jumping off due to fire closures. We have a PCT trail name pole, where hikers can add their trail names when they stop by our shop. It’s nice to see everyone recognize fellow thru hikers on there!
In addition to our very informal registry, we are an Osprey on-the-fly pack swap out. So if a hiker breaks their pack let’s say outside of Mt. Shasta area, they can call up Osprey. Osprey usually sends up a pack to us ahead of time so by the time they get up to Bend, we’ve got a new pack waiting for them. Being an Osprey dealer and our close proximity to the PCT, it’s awesome that we can provide this service for Osprey.
We are also a Darn Tough sock swap out retailer. I think we are one of the few that actually does an on the fly swap out. So when thru hikers come through with Darn Tough socks with holes or tears, we are able to provide them with new, fresh socks which is always appreciated. By the time PCT hikers get to us from Mexico they’ve got their packs dialed, their shelter dialed so they’re just kind of looking for some new socks, maybe some food and some extra cushion on the shoes. It’s nice to be able to set them up for success for this next little stretch here.
Lastly, we have a large assortment of backpacking gear so thru hikers can resupply. We have everything from lightweight, personal water filtration to dehydrated meals to fuel.
What are some of your most popular products?
We are very well-known for climbing gear, footwear, camping/backpacking essentials, and backcountry ski equipment.
How can we best support your gear shop and other gear shops?
I think most of us are in a brick and mortar atmosphere and I think just through word of mouth, grassroots kind of guerilla marketing, social media, and continued exposure to our small businesses that are at the heart of the industry. Just to keep getting the needle to sway towards us is crucial. I think that brands realize that we are the front lines, we are talking to the customers, we are feeling and touching and showing the customers the products ourselves and providing that experience to dive into deeper levels of detail that don’t come otherwise. I think just continuing to share our story, that our customers are first and foremost, our staff is what we rely on, and that the small, local shops are really at the core of this industry and just keep shouting that from the rooftop the best we can.
About the Gear Tester
Kelly Knauf leads the marketing team at Outdoor Prolink. She is a mountain lover, outdoor enthusiast, and professional snack packer. By day she answers emails and writes content, by night she's plotting her next camping trip or snowboarding adventure.