Welcome to The Innovation Project, presented by Marmot and Mountain Hardwear, which highlights our nation’s best outdoor retail shops. Check out this two-minute glimpse of what’s to come in our original, two-part video series: Insights, revelations, and candid opinions from 17 of the country’s most innovative outdoor retail shops.

It’s a tough time to be a small brick-and-mortar shop. Many of the proprietors of these core outdoor stores launched these businesses 20, even 30, years ago with little more than grit, determination and a true passion for sharing their love of the outdoors.

They’ve felt the pang of growing pains as our industry has matured. They’ve remained nimble as they try to keep up with rapidly changing technology, the eruption of social media, the explosion of new brands and the maturation of iconic brands that struggle to manage the challenges that come with growth. They’ve learned to compete in an omni-channel world with a proliferation of direct sales competition—by focusing on and sharpening what they do best, which is connecting with customers in a very personal way.

These retailers have stories to tell. Lots of them. These retailers are problem solvers. They are innovators. They’re scrappy and daring and tireless and committed. They’ve learned the hard way and adapted the new skills required to survive in this challenging business climate.

In short, they have a lot to teach all of us in the outdoor industry, and they have a lot to celebrate.

The following shops are featured in this series:

Part 1
Outdoor Gear Exchange—Burlington, VT
Feral Mountain Co.—Denver, CO
Great Outdoor Provisions Co.—9 stores in the southeast
Moosejaw—12 stores and e-commerce
Summit Hut—Tucson, AZ
Midwest Mountaineering—Minneapolis, MN
Mountain Hardware & Sports—Truckee, CA
Sportago—Napa Valley, CA
Idaho Mountain Touring—Boise, ID

Part 2
Alpenglow Sports—Tahoe City, CA
Pack Rat Outdoor Center—Fayetteville, AR
The Benchmark—Cinncinati, OH
Rutabaga—Madison, WI
Backcountry North—3 stores in Michigan
Black Creek Outfitters—Jacksonville, FL
Proof Lab Station—3 stores in CA
Elevation Sierra Adventure Essentials—Lone Pine, CA
Innovation project sponsored by Marmot

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