Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 50

BREAD+BUTTER / Counter Culture

Belay Station

Want to truly anchor your store to your community?
Cement carabiners (literally) into your countertop
and provide service no one can resist. by Tracy Ross
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF SHOP YOU'RE GOING TO ENTER BEFORE YOU STEP
across the threshhold into Backcountry Essentials (BCE) in Bellingham, Washington, take
a look beneath your feet. There, in the sidewalk, you'll find metal bits inlaid into the cement.
There's an old ice screw, a figure eight belay device, a nut tool. The pieces belong to BCE owner-
and diehard climber, kayaker, and backcountry skier-Chris Gerston, who several years ago,
helped lay them himself.
He did the same to the store's front counter, a long, cement block with three carabiners shining
through the finish. But while the relics make for nice flourishes, they also create a metaphor for
the shop. Carabiners are part of a system that helps anchor climbers. And Backcountry Essentials
is an anchor where outdoor newbies and diehards alike can mingle, browse, shop, dream, or attend, say, an avalanche safety course that benefits the Northwest Weather and Avanlanche Center.

50 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ Winter 2019

THE STORE PURSUED
SKI-BOOT FITTING AS
ITS MAIN SELLING POINT
"BECAUSE ONCE YOU
ADDRESS A PERSON'S
FEET, OTHER THINGS FALL
INTO PLACE."
At this point in the season, says Gerston,
BCE anchors sales "by focusing on making our
customer's feet happy." The store pursued skiboot fitting as its main selling point "because
once you address a person's feet, other things
fall into place." That "other" is customers outfitting themselves in everything from goggles
to gloves and jackets to bibs. But in a place like
Bellingham, whose unofficial nickname is The
City of Subdued Excitement (because, "people
are so low-key about their accomplishments,"
says Gerston) selling outdoor goods takes a
special kind of talent.
He trains his staff to approach a customer
"with excitement for whatever level that customer is on," taking his cue from some of the
reps who frequent the 3,000-square-foot
store. "A lot of these guys are really hardcore
athletes, but they never get into 'How hard do
you climb, how high do you huck, how fast do
you ski?'" he says. He expects the same of his
staff. Their job is to stoke the customer no matter what level of sporting ability they have.
BCE's marketing is anchor-driven too.
Due to a small budget, they drive new traffic
through store events. "One of the things we've
learned is that we can host movies or slideshows, avy clinics or local Mountaineers meetings-and through listings on local events calendars, we can get our name out in an effective
manner," says Gerston.
But the best way to both nab and retain
customers is to be solid in service and uncompromising in quality. Kind of like the climbing gear Gerston placed in still more locations around the store. If you go, ask to see the
hardware encased in the fire escape threshold he helped pour. "I guess I just like putting
climbing gear in cement," he says. But clearly
that impulse is about something more. O.R.

Photo courtesy Chris Gerston

THE BOMBER ANCHOR
Core climber, paddler, and
skier Chris Gerston works
hard to make sure his
Bellingham, Washington,
shop provides support for
backcountry enthusiasts
of all ability levels.



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
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/dailySM2022_Day3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day2
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2022_Day1
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/outdoorretailer/daily2021_day3
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https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/outdoorretailer/postshow_summer2019
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