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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Outfitting overload: North 40 – the go-to for everything – opens ‘huge’ new Airway Heights store

Welcome to a store that’s like a Costco for cowpokes.

North 40 Outfitters is one of the few stores where a cowgirl could ride up on a horse and outfit an entire ranch, from barbed wire and treated fence posts to “No Trespassing” signs and all the ammunition needed to enforce said proclamation.

The Great Falls-based company changed its name to North 40 Outfitters in 2014 from Big R. But its DNA remained the same.

The company opened its newest location last week at 9646 W. U.S. Highway 2 in Airway Heights. Nothing has really changed with North 40, except, perhaps, that the company has enhanced its previous reputation with the mammoth new 90,000-square-foot store on the West Plains.

The store becomes the third Spokane-area location, in addition to the Mead store at 15228 N. Newport Highway and the Millwood store at 8307 E. Trent Ave.

It has 12 stores in the Northwest, including locations in Coeur d’Alene, Moses Lake, Colville and Ponderay, Idaho.

“It’s wonderful,” said Judy Davis, of Spokane, as she walked out of the new store on Thursday. “It’s huge. I only saw about half of it. The location is great.”

The array of gear, tools and stuff is, well, mind-boggling.

My uncle Don once told me: “If Big R don’t have it, you don’t need it.”

Just walking up to the store, shoppers are greeted with bags of bedding, wood pellets and an armored column of hydraulic-log splitters.

Got firewood? How about a 38-ton Black Diamond log splitter with enough power to tame even the greenest of pine rounds ($2,399.99).

Don’t have a fireplace, well perhaps you need a food-grade 55-gallon barrel. Or perhaps a calf table. Don’t know what a calf table is? Then, you don’t need one ($1,699.99).

The store has a wide array of clothing for women, kids and dudes, with brands like Wrangler, Carhartt and Stetson. They are the kind of clothes that make you look good even after you install tire chains in the mud.

The men’s boot section has mostly two kinds: work and cowboy boots with a few hunting-type models for city slickers during deer season.

You want to go full Western? How about a hair-on cow hide from a Brahman bull ($249.99)?

The place has layers of complexity that create their own wants and desires.

“You never know how much you need until you go in there,” Davis said.

Take hydraulic fluid. Do I need hydraulic fluid?

Well, yes, but only if it’s 5 gallons of Vintage Hydraulic Fluid ($35.99) for my 1982 Mitsubishi 18-horsepower tractor that spills more fluid at my cabin than it moves dirt.

Turn the corner on an aisle, and you find plumbing supplies. Plumbing? Yep. How about a hand-drill-powered clog chaser ($18.99).

Avert your eyes from aisles of tools and you find yourself lost in the animal section.

It has everything an owner could need for cats and dogs to horses and chickens.

That section of the store is big enough to have its own area code.

Thinking about having fresh eggs in the city? Perhaps you need Turbo Electric Poultry Netting. It’s 4 feet tall by 164 feet long ($299.99).

I didn’t have time to ask why it’s more expensive for the same 164 feet of electric-sheep netting ($174.99.). Perhaps chickens are harder to manage than sheep.

Speaking of chickens, nothing makes a pullet happier than 50 pounds of Nature Wise Feather Fixer ($21.49). Feather fixer? No, I didn’t ask.

Moving on.

With fall bringing wet weather and possibly snow, every horse owner could consider a Shelter Logic 12-foot-by-12-foot Corral Shelter roof-over-pen to keep anything from your nag to hay to outdoor equipment dry.

Now that your horse is comfortable, perhaps you need to ride into the herd and tag that newborn calf. Then you may need a Peacemaker Heel Rope ($46.99). Or, turquoise spur straps ($26.99), or a Mustang Deluxe Bitless Bridle ($24.99.)

Did I mention tools? (Yeah, I had to go back.)

In these parts, most serious-firewood cutters come from two camps: American-assembled Stihl or Sweden-based Husqvarna

The North 40 planners understood these differences. They put all the Stihl products on one side of an aisle and all the Husqvarna on the other, opposite each other.

“It’s like Ford and Chevy,” the clerk said as I pointed out the separate, but together, items.

The same arguments are made in tool shops everywhere about the difference between Dewalt power tools and Milwaukee brand.

Yep, they are all separate, but together, in the store.

The store also has belt buckles, crushable wool hats, meat grinders, toy Freightliner 18-wheeler cow-haulers with their own plastic herds, Christmas cards, gifts, guns, fishing poles, branding irons, camping gear … wait, what? Yup, the store has camping gear.

One aisle has North 40 brand-camp chairs. They come in standard fold-up, director chair and even a collapsible rocker ($59.99).

“Yeah, this one is mine,” a woman said as she tried the rocker. “I’m gonna fall asleep just sitting here.”

Grace Larson, of Cheney, was leaving Thursday with Jeff Johnsson and a shopping cart loaded with supplies to outfit a Halloween party in their barn.

Larson said he just started working for North 40 about four months ago in the e-commerce department.

“Everybody worked really hard to get this going. It’s certainly rewarding to see it full of people,” she said of the new store. “The location is going to be huge for them. This is like Spokane’s little farmer heartland.”

Johnsson said he grew up on a farm.

“I used to go to Big R back in the day,” Johnsson said. “I grew up on a farm, ran away as fast as I could, and now I’ve come back.”