Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 31

CURATED COOL
Gary Neptune's museum
(left) is a prime Boulder
attraction. Marketing and
Events Coordinator
Skye Habberfield (right)
loves his job .

The new store is at once A TOTALLY MODERN RETAIL EXPERIENCE-
A COFFEE SHOP FOR LOUNGING, A GUIDE SERVICE FOR BOOKING TRIPS,

and a throwback
to Neptune's heyday AS A SPECIALTY OUTDOORS CENTER.

AND A CLIMBING WALL TO TEST OUT SHOES AND GEAR -

new carabiners or checked out a new ice axe
from a European climber, then ordered some
for his store if he liked them. What developed
was a diverse and hand-picked selection of
some of the best products available for climbing, skiing, and niche sports like roller-skiing.
"One of my goals was to be able to outfit
somebody for a big trip," Neptune says. "I'm
not sure I ever got there, but it was fun to carry
all of these small brands, so climbers could see
all the stuff. You know, 10 percent of it-that's
what they bought. All the other stuff was just
there, almost, for window dressing."
If Gary's stocking strategy wasn't exactly optimized for sales, it did earn the store
credibility. And at that time, in the early
1980s, Boulder was quickly becoming the
epicenter of the outdoor world, particularly among mountain climbers. Somewhat by
coincidence and somewhat by design, many
of the best mountaineers stumbled through
Neptune, many as employees. Alex Lowe,
Rolando Garibotti, Charlie Fowler-they all
walked the aisles of Neptune at one point or
another, helping customers with their shoe
sizes or picking out the right jacket.
"I didn't specifically hire people who were
really good climbers," says Gary. "I hired people if they were friendly, like Garibotti. He

was just the nicest guy. And Alex Lowe, back
then he had a reputation among climbers,
but a whole lot of people never knew who this
friendly guy was. He just was always willing
to help."
As the store grew in popularity, Gary moved
to progressively larger locations, eventually
settling on a 17,000-square-foot retail space
in the Table Mesa Shopping Center, at the
southern edge of Boulder. "I only expanded
as I needed," he says. "Everything was a shoestring kind of a deal, with remodels and all the
rest of it. It wasn't a pretty shop, that's for sure.
But it had character. It had great employees."
There were many things that made the store
successful, but it really was the employees, and
their knowledge of the outdoors, that made it
unique. And that was no accident. Gary was
an accomplished climber and mountaineer
himself, having summited Mt. Everest, Ama
Dablam, and Gasherbrum II, among others.
He recognized that his employees, like himself, needed large chunks of time off to attempt
their passion projects in the outdoors, so Gary
was as flexible as he could be with scheduling. He also encouraged his staff to explore
Colorado by creating what must have been
one of the stranger employee perks of the
1990s and 2000s for a retail store: He would

reward employees with small cash payments
for establishing a new climbing route or summiting a series of the state's 14,000-foot peaks.
"It was a goofy little bonus system," Gary
says. "But it was fun. I had a lot of wall space
in the back of the store, so we had a chart of
all the fourteeners, and every time someone
would do 10 of them, I'd give them a small bonus, maybe $10 or something. You could just
walk by it every day in the back and go, 'Wow,
look at so and so. He's done a lot of fourteeners. I thought he was just a rock climber,' and
that kind of stuff."
Other rewards included a one-time trip to
Norway for a handful of employees and annual
ski trips for much of the crew to Snowbird. "I'd
buy all the lift tickets and stuff like that, and
they'd carpool over there," says Gary. "They'd
drive all night, like I would, and ski all day, then
collapse at the end of the night." If an employee
had a project they wanted to tackle in Yosemite
or Alaska, Gary would occasionally chip in with
some gas money. It's hard to imagine a shop existed in the U.S. with a more talented crew of
climbers, skiers, and mountaineers.
But if the staff was accomplished in the outdoors, they could also be snobbish about it.
Old-timers talk about the employees' penchant for what they call "Neptude," a haughty
response to basic questions from customers
about gear and climbing advice. Gary counteracted that as much as he could with the bonus system; employees wouldn't earn their reward for tougher climbs unless they finished
a series of easier ones first, so they could talk
knowledgeably about them to customers.

Winter 2019 / OUTDOOR RETAILER 31



Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019

OUTDOOR RETAILER - WINTER 2019
CONTENTS
THE PULSE
HEADLINES
MERCHANDISING
MARKETING
BIG PICTURE
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
CASE STUDY
IDEAS
WHITNEY CONNELL
SHERYL DEBOARD
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
RESEARCH
NEPTUNE’S REVIVAL
MOVING THE NEEDLE
SKI TRADITIONS
BREAD+BUTTER
KNOW YOUR WINTER SPORTS
MADE IN AMERICA
WORK WEAR
COUNTER CULTURE
THE VIEW
HOW I GOT HERE
#REPLIFE
FROM THE ROAD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - OUTDOOR RETAILER - WINTER 2019
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 4
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 6
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 8
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - THE PULSE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - HEADLINES
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MERCHANDISING
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MARKETING
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - BIG PICTURE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 17
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - CASE STUDY
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 19
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 20
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - IDEAS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - WHITNEY CONNELL
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - SHERYL DEBOARD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - RESEARCH
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - NEPTUNE’S REVIVAL
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 30
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 32
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MOVING THE NEEDLE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 36
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - SKI TRADITIONS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 40
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 41
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 42
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - BREAD+BUTTER
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - KNOW YOUR WINTER SPORTS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 45
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MADE IN AMERICA
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 47
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - WORK WEAR
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 49
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - COUNTER CULTURE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 51
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - THE VIEW
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 53
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 54
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 55
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 56
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 57
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - HOW I GOT HERE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 59
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - #REPLIFE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 61
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - FROM THE ROAD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 63
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 64
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover4
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