Backcountry Experience sold to Ben Rockis

Kirk Singer, owner of the Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colo., since 1979, has sold his store to Ben Rockis, formerly the general manager for Riversports Outfitters in Knoxville, Tenn.

Kirk Singer, owner of the Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colo., since 1979, has sold his store to Ben Rockis, formerly the general manager for Riversports Outfitters in Knoxville, Tenn.

Terms of the sale were not disclosed, but Singer told SNEWS he was very pleased. With the purchase, Rockis acquires a 5,760-square-foot space with a lease at $9.50 per square foot, according to records.

Rockis told us he had been looking to purchase a retail store location for the last year when everything just fell into place.

"I saw the store listed for sale in SNEWS, and within three days I was out here looking at the books and a week later, I owned the store," Rockis said.

Singer, who sold his other store in Sante Fe, N.M., last year to John Asher, was simply tired of the changes in Durango that made it hard for him to love retail in the location anymore.

"Durango is getting less earthy and far more upscale," Singer said. "Combine those changes with the poor business climate, the poor snow over the last several years and the fire, and it was a clear message that it was time for me to get out."

Singer and his wife have sold their home and Nissan Pathfinder and purchased an RV with the intention of working seasonally for the Forest Service and Park Service. Singer told us that he's made the final cut to work for Mount Saint Helens.

As for what Rockis plans, he's all about having fun, he told us.

"I want to get the store more involved in the community and absolutely work to have fun. My store needs to be fun for the staff, fun for the customers, fun for me," Rockis said. "My goal is to become a friend to the locals, and if I can do that, I will be able to carve a very successful niche for myself."

Rockis also said that he intends to differentiate himself from Pine Needle, the other specialty outdoor store in Durango, by being the best climbing store and best boot store in town. He also intends to look at other product areas not being well-served by stores in the area.

SNEWS View: Rockis has his work cut out for him. He's not only purchased a store that has seen its reputation among reps and others in the industry wane in recent years, he's also purchased a retail operation that will have to reenergize itself with the locals if he hopes to compete successfully against another specialty outdoor retailer in town, one now owned and run by a very experienced local, Keith Roush. New product mixes, community connections and top-notch service are all great ideas. Now it remains to be seen how well Rockis delivers with the dream he's managed to secure. There is definitely room for two stores in Durango -- as long as both are very, very good. Pine Needle has its act together, the rest is up to Rockis.


eNZees wool blister prevention

Durango retailer Backcountry Experience bought a brand

When Jill Shuman started pitching retailers her natural blister prevention product, eNZees Foot Soother, in 2016, Backcountry Experience was her first stop. Having built his business on expert bootfitting, Ben Rockis, the store's owner, was immediately all in.  "She looked at me more

Singer selling Wild Mountain Outfitters

Kirk Singer, owner of Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colo., is putting his other store, Wild Mountain Outfitters in Santa Fe, N.M., up for sale. Singer told SNEWS® that his reasons are varied, but rest primarily in the fact that the past 18 months have been extremely more

Backcountry magazine sold to Vermont publishing group

Publishers David and Betsy Harrower, and equity partner Brian Litz, have sold Backcountry Magazine to Height of Land Publications for an undisclosed sum. Height of Land is a Jeffersonville, Vt.-based, group that includes photographer Chuck Waskuch, 30, and journalist Adam Howard, more

Backcountry Experience

#CoolShop | Backcountry Experience in Durango, CO

Ben Rockis is the first person to tell you his investment in Backcountry Experience back in 2003 may not have been completely thought-out. “Being young and dumb, I wanted to own a business so bad that I didn’t really look at the numbers and where the business was health-wise,” more

Outdoor Research sold to Dan Nordstrom

Outdoor Research has been sold to Dan Nordstrom, who assumes the title of president and CEO of the company effective immediately. Bob Gregg, who took over the company following his brother Ron Gregg's death earlier this year, will continue to serve on the company's board and he more

Raleigh's U.S. Fitness Products sold, owner Bill Martin to retire

U.S. Fitness Products, a Raleigh, N.C.-based, specialty retailer since 1991, has been sold to a partnership of Chip Hunnings, president of All About Fitness/Lifestyle Fitness, and U.S. Fitness' current general manager, Tom Flanagan. The current operation acquired by Hunnings and more

Alpine Experience acquires Olympic Outfitters

After 38 years in business, the owner of Olympic Outfitters, Ray LaForge, is retiring with a smile on his face after successfully selling his business to the Alpine Experience's Joe Hyer, another Olympia, Wash., specialty retailer located a mere two blocks away. Terms of the deal more

Rock & Ice and Trail Runner Sold To Former Climbing Mag Publisher

As SNEWS forecast last week Duane Raleigh, former publisher of Climbing Magazine, and Quent Williams, former production manager of Climbing, have acquired Rock & Ice and Trail Runner magazines from North South Publications. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but we did learn more

The Camp: A More Hip Retail Experience

Could it be that the outdoor industry needs to loosen up, think younger, and have a little more fun? Shaheen Sadeghi, former Quiksilver president and the developer of a new retail and sports development in Southern California thinks so. That development is dubbed The Camp and more