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

Outdoors consignment shop Rambleraven closing its doors after seven years: ‘It was death by a thousand cuts’

Rambleraven Gear Trader is expected to close April 20, the last outdoor adventure equipment consignment store of its kind in town.

The shop is owned by Mark Schneider, whose most fond memories were outfitting entire families with affordable gear that helped them find an otherwise unattainable love for the outdoors.

“My favorite interactions were with grandparents or parents coming in with kids because they couldn’t afford gear,” he said. “Watching them all leave, outfitted for a fraction of what they would pay brand new is what made it all worth it.”

Before becoming a store owner, Schneider worked as an engineer in the manufacturing industry. After feeling disenfranchised from his work, he decided to follow his passion.

Monday marked seven years since he opened Rambleraven, originally as Northwest Outdoors. Schneider eventually changed the name because he was inspired by the Hoarding Marmot, a similar shop in Anchorage, Alaska.

Upon opening, Schneider had expanded the store to include ski gear. He built its workstations, erected its light-up sign and even called it home – literally.

He lived on the property with his Australian doodle, Mazzy, for several years.

“She has been a shop dog her whole life. We lived in the house next door kind of illegally because it’s a commercial lease,” he said. “Then I moved out so we could expand our service department.”

The property the store sits on and the adjacent plot to the east are both owned by Douglass Properties.

Schneider said he considered renewing his lease, but said he has paid close to half a million dollars in rent with nothing to show for it.

“I asked for a couple of things to fix, but I was on my own,” he said. “It was surprising that they had zero interest in how I was doing or the success of the business.”

Overhead costs, high minimum wage and the growth in popularity of e-commerce all compounded to shrink his profit margins.

“It was death by a thousand cuts,” he said.

For the first years, when he was living on the property, he would work dozens of days in a row, often with no paycheck.

After he found more stable housing, he would still sacrifice paying himself to keep the store alive, he said.

“I would try and keep money in the bank to get ready for a move,” he said.

He began looking for vacant retail spaces but found many of them to be in poor condition with owners disinterested in repairing them.

“I found a property that was going to be beautiful, and I was really excited about it,” he said. “But there was black mold everywhere, the roof was 10 years beyond when it should have been repaired and the landlord wouldn’t put a dime into it.”

The owner said he would have to take the property as it is, and any repair costs were to be paid by him.

After about a year of much of the same, he gave up.

“We weren’t failing, but we weren’t thriving either,” he said. “The increased financial burden to take the next step forward, and in relation to my personal well-being, it just didn’t make sense anymore.”

This was in no way related to the support of his loyal patrons, he said.

“I’ve had customers ask if they were supporting us enough, and they were,” he said. “We were putting up some respectable gross numbers. But the net wasn’t there.”

His closure comes behind the numerous other beloved gear shops, such as Mountain Goat Outfitters and Mountain Gear, the latter of which operated for 37 years, according to previous Spokesman-Review reports.

“I don’t want to take away from the ski and bike shops,” he said. “But as far as consignment climbing, mountaineering and backpacking – this was it.”

Schneider felt a pressure as the only remaining consignment gear shop of its kind in town. Without one, he feels the outdoors community will suffer.

“You lose the ability to buy used, affordable gear and have friendly and informed staff to help you navigate that purchase,” he said.

He said his own sense of failure also stings. This is because he loses his ability to use his business as a vehicle for conservation efforts.

For instance, Rambleraven partnered with the Inland Northwest Land Conservancy to hold a fundraiser called Consignment for a Cause, which raised around $20,000 for preservation efforts in areas like Iller Creek and Dishman Hills.

When the shop shuts its doors for good, Schneider will work to sell off or donate the remaining gear. After that, he is unsure what he will do next.

But whatever he pursues , he will be found volunteering his time fixing up trails around Spokane, something he has been doing since he first arrived around 12 years ago from his home state of Michigan.

“When I got here, I was overwhelmed with the amount of access to the outdoors and public land that we have out here,” he said.

Before closing, Schneider’s store will offer discounts on all gear, both online and in store, he said.