Ridgway Adventure Sports – More Than Your Average Retail Shop
If you are an Outdoor Professional with access to pro deals, you should be sending the clients you work with and people who ask for your recommendations to local retail stores in your area. Here’s why.
“Bikes and Skis. Bikes and Skis everywhere”.
It’s April, and I’m talking with Andy Persio and Amanda Swain, two grown-up dirtbags, and the co-owners of Ridgway Adventure Sports – a local outdoor retailer and full-service ski and bike shop, located in the heart of Ridgway, Colorado.
“Spring is here. But Winter is too. It’s hectic”
They’re in the midst of what is the typical ‘mud season’ in Colorado, but due to an absurdly large snowpack this year and some unexpected spring dumps, ski season has been extended in the high country. But bikers are eager beavers in the lower elevations too. It makes for a bustling store with lots of gear loving customers – a clear sign that these folks seek out the knowledge and experience a retail shop owner can offer in a face-to-face interaction at a brick-and-mortar retail shop.
They fill their store with technical brands like SCARPA, DPS, Osprey, Smartwool, Mountainsmith, Big Agnes, La Sportiva, MSR and more. It’s the best gear for all the sports they love – hiking, camping, trail running, backpacking, biking, splitboarding, backcountry skiing, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. They are servicing a small, but diverse demographic of adventurers – from local Ridgway athletes on dawn patrol to the average tourist looking for beta on the conditions and a mountain bike to rent for the day.
The hardest part of it all?
Andy and Amanda aren’t your typical retail owners. They both grew up with a deep connection to the outdoors and to the activities they still do to this day. Andy has been involved in the outdoors, specifically mountain biking, since the late 80s. He even owned a mobile bike repair shop in San Francisco.
Amanda grew up biking, camping, trail running and skiing. She established herself with a successful career in real estate and learned quickly what it’s like owning and running a business.
But what keeps their partnership and their business strong is how much they value adventuring together. They have extensive knowledge and passion for gear because they use it just as much as their customers do.
The two met and began their search for a gem — a location that had a high need for a community gear shop and a place that had a business opportunity. They found both in Ridgway, Colorado.
Community Is What It’s All About
Ridgway is known as the gateway to the San Juans, an outdoor lovers mecca, and a somewhat ‘undiscovered’ gem of Southwest Colorado.
And the town pretty much has it all. From abundant trails to epic climbing crags, and all things water sports – you can’t just spend a day here.
And when we asked them, “what’s the best part about owning a retail shop in such a cool town?,” the answer surprised us.
“Being a part of this amazing community”
From volunteering, hosting community events, to serving on the Ridgway Board of the Chamber of Commerce, Andy and Amanda want Ridgway Adventure Sports to be an essential stop for local adventurers and a great asset to the community. And they’ve made that happen, which is why they get reviews like the following below — from tourists stopping by the shop, looking to rent a bike and ride the Ridgway Area Trails (RAT), 26 miles of perfectly crafted Colorado single track.
“I walked into the store to ask a few questions about renting a mountain bike. All three employees were super friendly and very knowledgeable. The brands they carry are high quality as well. They let me know that I could ride right out the door to the ridgeway area trails and gave me more than enough advice. I was so impressed that I decided to go for it. They set up every last detail of the bike up to meet my needs. I had an incredible 20 mile ride and was appreciative of their top notch customer service. Great people who put all their effort into their craft and meeting the customers needs above and beyond. Keep up the great work.”
It’s more than just helping them pick out a bike or jacket. It goes deeper.
A Retail Business With a Passion for Educating
As much as buying gear online can be simple and hassle-free, if you don’t know exactly what type of gear you need, you can stumble into a space of endless chatter filled with marketing, advertising, and sponsored posts. It can be hard to know who to trust and what to buy if you aren’t an expert.
A retail shop is more than a connection to a real human. Explanation of your gear needs and specific activity can be much more effective for beginners than a couple words typed into a Google search bar.
Andy and Amanda are not only experts in the gear they use and sell in their store, but they are also both ‘local guides’ and ‘educators.’ When chatting with customers, they not only ask if you have questions about gear, but what kind of adventure you’re seeking, where exactly you’d like to go, and whether you are properly prepared for the conditions.
If they know you’re planning to demo a pair of backcountry skis for the day, they can also recommend local areas based on your expertise or suggest you pair up with a local guide for the day. For someone who’s new to Ridgway, this knowledge is essential. And far better than reading guide books or scouring the web for beta.
Even for seasoned guides, including Outdoor Prolink Pros, sometimes uncertainty with new products can mean they seek out the knowledge of retail owners.
When we sent a local guide DPS Phantom to review, he felt most comfortable going to Andy and Amanda’s store for the application. After waxing his skis for 33 years, it’s understandable that he was a bit skeptical of a new process. Since Ridgway Adventure Sports is trained and equipped with a DPS curing station, even for a seasoned guide, paying the experts to get it done right is worth it.
Women-Owned Shops Means the Right Women’s Gear is Likely Inside
Amanda will be the first to tell you that finding women’s specific gear that isn’t just ‘shrinked and pinked’ is difficult. Add to that the fact that she is a smaller person – stores rarely carry her size.
“You actually have my size!”
That’s just part of the feedback she gets from women who come into the shop.
Amanda knows what women want in gear. Namely, that we don’t like to dress like a neon power ranger, and that we want to be taken seriously as athletes – as mountaineers, climbers, mountain bikers, and backcountry skiers. And in order to pursue our outdoor adventures, we need gear that works, fits, and performs just as well as the guys’ gear does.
For example, a number of bikes in the demo and rental bike fleet at the shop are women’s specific bikes. And that’s just one of many examples of how Amanda keeps the women hooked up with gear they actually want to buy.
Pro Deals & Retail Shops Are Like Oil And Water, Right?
You’ve all heard of “that guy” or “that gal.” The one who goes into a retail shop to try on climbing shoes for size, wastes an enormous amount of the retail employees’ time, and then casually mentions they’ll “get it cheaper on pro deal.”
We’re here to say – that’s not okay (not to mention, if you are ever caught doing this, your Outdoor Prolink account will be revoked immediately).
Pro deals are not for everyone. And no, just because you’re a ‘really avid biker’ doesn’t mean you deserve a pro deal.
At Outdoor Prolink, we believe an outdoor industry professional is someone that facilitates, encourages and protects participation in the great outdoors. Pros are the people who create, sell or rely on outdoor gear to further the pursuit of outdoor recreation for everyone. We believe these outdoor professionals are the beating heart of the outdoor industry.
Getting access to gear at a deal is not where your job as a pro ends. You become an advocate for the brands and products you use and love. Your job is to recommend those brands and products to others, and especially — recommend those people go to your local retail store to shop and learn more.
Retail Shops are more than just brick-and-mortar stores that sell the same stuff you can buy online.
- They’re an important part of YOUR outdoor community.
- They are gear and local area experts. They can help you prepare properly for your activity and help keep you safe. They can recommend local guides or a route that might be more suited to your experience.
- They’re pros themselves. And they know what gear their customers need and want to buy. They’re always keeping up with the latest trends, getting the low down on new gear, attending clinics and working with their suppliers to determine the right products for their customers.
And beyond that, for Andy and Amanda, the connection they create with every customer is rooted in mutual respect. In the age of everyone using the internet for everything, sometimes it’s refreshing to connect with a person who loves to do the same things as you. Because for them, it doesn’t matter where you grew up or where you came from, there’s a reason that person ended up on the same trail as you. Because we all love this sh*t.
Ridgway Adventure Sports is an independently owned outdoor gear retailer and full bike shop with demos, rentals, sales, and repair. If you’re ever in the Ridgway area, be sure to stop by and say hi to Andy and Amanda!