Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 33

Feature .01
bring back one of the centerpieces of the old
store: his collection of climbing artifacts. For
years, Gary had been displaying equipment
he used, found, or was given on his expeditions. His ad hoc museum had grown to include dozens of ice axes, various types of crampons and snow goggles, rope jumars, boots,
stoves, carabiners, and an impressive stash of
old photos. Some of the stuff was part of expedition history, including the down suit Peter
Habeler wore in 1978 to the summit of Mount
Everest with Reinhold Messner, the first time
the peak had been climbed without bottled
oxygen. Other artifacts were gathered simply
because Gary like them-for example, a rusted piton made from rebar that Gary found on
the Honeycomb Gulley of Shiprock, in New
Mexico, in 1968.
"The best stuff was all donated," says Gary.
"The rest of it had to have a meaning for me.
I was always interested in the history, even
climbing in Yosemite. When I'd do the North
America Wall I'd think, 'What was that like

many of the items are in glass cases attached to
the building's support beams. So the 1890s-era
Primus stove, original pitons from Chouinard
Equipment Company, and decades-old ski waxes appear to you while walking around the floor
like little surprises at the bottom of a Cracker
Jack box. In the Neptune Café, a 12-person,
glass-covered table displays broken carabin-

"We watched the Backwoods demise AND IT WAS
HEARTBREAKING," SAYS SHELLEY DUNBAR. "IT WAS LIKE, 'WOW, HOW DID BOULDER
END UP LOSING ALL OF ITS

specialty independent retailers.'"

when they first did it? How would they have
done this and with what?' That was all part
of the fun of climbing for me, and that's why I
picked up little things here and there."
Perhaps the most infamous, and macabre,
piece in the store is a frostbitten toe that had
to be amputated. (It belonged to Malcolm
Daly, who, naturally, works in the store.) "It's
definitely the most talked about item," says
Shelley. "Especially by Malcolm, who likes to
point it out to freak out some 8-year-old kid,
who's like, 'What!?'"
After Backwoods purchased the store and
with the ensuing trouble, Gary removed all of the
items and put them in storage, so it was somewhat of a concern among locals that the items
might be left out of the remodel plans. But there
wasn't a chance, according to the Dunbars.
"One of the first things we did was we called
Gary and said, 'Hey, if we do this, we'd really like
to have your museum back,'" says Shelley. Gary
was thrilled, of course. In the new store layout,
the items are spread seamlessly throughout.
There's a back wall with a large display case full
of items, including Habeler's down suit. But

ers, heavily-worn rope jumars, and old letters
from climbing luminaries.
Gary is back in the store regularly, having taken a new role as the museum's curator. "I keep
having to remind myself that you're not selling
the museum, you're selling products," he says.
"The museum is here, but you gotta put it up
high or in other places where you can't sell stuff."
In total, the remodel took six months and was
finished last December. The Dunbars expected it would take a few years to get back to peak
sales, but they're already on track to reach that
goal in 2018. "Initially, some of the old timers
and some of the employees were like, 'Oh my
God, they're going to remodel it and it's going to
lose its soul,'" says Andrew. "What's been gratifying is that some of those same people today are
like, 'It's exceeded our expectations.' I think we
convinced them that it actually does still have a
cool factor to it."

TODAY, NEPTUNE IS BACK UP AND RUNNING
after the long remodeling. Shelves are filled
with both big and niche brands, and the weekly talks have become a hit, including one with

climber Conrad Anker that was so packed
that they added a second show. The Dunbars
have largely returned to their primary business, Sea to Summit, but it's hard to stay away
from your own store, especially one that's just
down the block from your house. There are
always minor improvements to be made, like
picking up a new set of chairs on Craigslist for
the café, and working with smaller brands to
get their stuff in the store. In addition to the
museum, the Dunbars have carried on Gary's
directive to stock the shelf with niche or hardto-find brands. "That's one of our clear directives for our buyers, to continue buying small,
unique brands from all over the world, and
from Colorado," says Andrew.
There are 250 brands represented in
Neptune, and while Sea to Summit makes up
a large percentage of that, it's nowhere near
where you might think. ("The best brand is
Sea to Summit," says Andrew, smiling. "But it
would be a really boring store if it just had Sea
to Summit stuff.") The Dunbars have also made
sure to stock the shelves like Gary did, with everything you might need for a big expedition,
even if it doesn't all sell at the same rate.
In addition to the Thursday night community happenings, the Dunbars have added other events to the calendar. Last spring,
Shelley helped produce a poster of local women who crush it in the outdoors (she was convinced to be one of them by friends), and then
held a poster-signing event for young girls and
got nearly all of the women to show up. This
winter, Neptune is clearing out a space so Gary
can come back and offer a wooden-ski-building workshop. At Christmas, Malcolm Daly
(of frozen foot fame) will reprise his role from
last year as Climbing Santa and hang out atop
the climbing wall, so kids can scramble their
way up to him for a small present.
It's all part of the Dunbars' plan: Create a
local outdoor retail store for locals who make
up some of the best adventurers on the planet.
"You know, we didn't set out to be retailers, to
be honest," says Shelley. "But this was a special
place, and we were wondering 'How could this
special place go away?' and, 'Could we be the
two people to save it...?'"
And then Andrew chimes in: "The whole industry has had a personal experience of what
this store meant to them-these vendors, these
companies, and these customers. It's been a
good place for brands to show off their story to
a very dedicated consumer. We're just happy
that we get to be a part of that now." O.R.

Winter 2019 / OUTDOOR RETAILER 33



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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