When Spokane’s go-to technical gear shop closed in 2020, it left a hole in the local outdoor recreation scene.
For decades, Mountain Gear provided top-notch assistance for technical adventures: climbing, backcountry skiing, paddling and more. When that mainstay closed – due in part to the pressures of online shopping – it left many Spokane-area outdoor enthusiasts wondering where to go.
Mark Schneider, the owner of Rambleraven Gear Trader – an outdoor gear consignment shop on Division Street – watched that happen and vowed he’d never get into retail.
That didn’t last long.
Now, nearly two years later, Schneider has started selling a number of new items – including high-tech and lightweight backcountry skiing gear, and is, slowly, filling the niche left open by Mountain Gear. And with winter approaching (one hopes) the shop, which is still primarily a consignment shop, has beefed up its winter sports inventory.
Rambleraven now offers boot fitting for skiers, backcountry ski tune-ups and more.
The shop is also carrying a number of backcountry skiing specific brands, including Black Diamond, K2, Voile and Salomon and five models of ski touring boots.
“It’s a big cash investment,” Schneider said.
They’re also renting snowshoes, some backcountry ski setups and cross-country skis.
Rambleraven also sells new climbing gear and some new clothing.
There are plenty of other great ski shops in the area, he said, and the intention isn’t to compete with them.
“The ski shops are focusing on alpine and offering a backcountry option,” he said. “We want to develop into that ski touring, mountaineering and climbing (shop) because that’s where there is a need.”
It’s a big step for Schneider, who opened the consignment shop about five years ago. The outdoor retail industry, like all retail, has struggled as more people shop online.
But buying technical gear online can be tricky and the experience of employees who know the gear well is hard to replicate.
That’s why Schneider has intentionally kept most of his business consignment-based, while trying to fill the gaps left by the closure of Mountain Gear, it gives him a buffer against the ups and downs of the retail industry.
“Supplementing our retail with consignment has really worked out for us,” he said. “It’s community-oriented and it’s a bit of an insulator from the online market.”
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