For avid geocacher Lisa Breitenfeldt, the jump from hobbyist to businesswoman all began in a tiny basement.
Now, eight years later, Breitenfeldt is busy greeting customers and friends at her warehouse and store front, the Cache Cave.
The new store, located at 2324 E. Euclid Ave., was a hub of activity Saturday as Breitenfeldt welcomed about 30 fellow treasure hunters to celebrate the grand opening of her new location.
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunt. Geocachers program coordinates into a handheld GPS device, then search for hidden containers placed by others at that location. Some caches are large enough to stash a toy or other “swag” inside, while others are only large enough to hold a rolled-up piece of paper to log those who find it.
Breitenfeldt’s online company, Cache Advance, opened in 2005 in her basement, she said. She only carried one product: her brainchild, Dr. B’s Cache Repair Kit, which contains items to make field repairs on damaged caches. On her website, she calls it “first aid for Tupperware.” Within the first year, they sold out of the repair kits.
They also survived the recent recession. Though business didn’t grow as quickly as it had in the past, they continued to expand their selection, she said.
“People are choosing to do this even when they don’t have much,” said Breitenfeldt’s niece, Lydia Smith. Smith and her sister Andrea Smith help Breitenfeldt with marketing and manufacturing caches.
The walls of the Cache Cave are lined with unassuming objects: metal bolts, rocks and even a wad of gum rendered in plastic. But to a geocacher, they’re dozens of treasures waiting to be discovered.
The store has grown with the interest in geocaching, Breitenfeldt said. The low cost and increased accessibility of GPS tracking devices have allowed more and more people to participate.
When Breitenfeldt began geocaching, only 70,000 cachers were registered worldwide. Today, more than 6 million people are registered with Geocaching.com, the official website for the caching community.
As the community grew, so too did Cache Advance. Eventually, Breitenfeldt had more than 200 products in her basement.
“It literally did not fit,” she said.
The store opened last month, including a warehouse space where she and her nieces can manufacture their products and a storefront where cachers can visit and make purchases. Breitenfeldt also hopes to host geocaching parties in the larger space, where groups can come to learn about caching.
Andrea Smith said she’s excited to see the store open and get out of her aunt’s basement, and she hopes business continues to grow.
“I think it’s cool that people get out and do it,” she said. “It’s really nice to see families getting out together.”