Summit Hut involves customers, employees with its green efforts

Heading into the 2012 nominations for the SNEWS/Backpacker Retailer of the Year, opening in June, SNEWS takes a look back at this year's winners, starting with Summit Hut -- winner of the award's best in conservation.

When Summit Hut ( won the 2011 SNEWS/Backpacker Retailer of the Year award for best in conservation, it wasn’t just for another retailer being green and sustainable.

Summit Hut has been practicing environmental conservation since Dave Baker founded the Tucson, Ariz.-based outdoor retail shop in 1969. The tradition has continued with new owner Dana Davis, who Baker credited as boosting the store’s green efforts when she was general manager.

What sets Summit Hut apart is the store’s recent push to communicate and integrate its sustainable practices with its customers and employees.

“We always had environmental efforts, but it felt like we were doing it on the DL,” Davis told SNEWS. “We realized instead of just donating money or volunteering, this was an opportunity to get out information about the causes, and give our customers a say – to find out what was important to them. It gives them a connection back to the community and environment through their shopping.”

A perfect example is Summit Hut’s Decline-A-Bag program, where customers can decline a shopping bag to have 5 cents of their purchase donated toward one of two outdoor environmental nonprofits. The participation doesn’t end there, as customers also can vote for the upcoming benefactors, which are changed out every six months. During the past two years, customers have declined more than 79,000 bags for about $4,000 in donations, Davis said.

A similar program is in place for Summit Hut’s revenue from the Banff Film Festival, which the store hosts in Tucson. Proceeds go toward five grants awarded to outdoor nonprofits voted on by customers. The top two receive $2,000 each and the remaining three receive $250 in cash and $250 in gift cards. When funds fell a little short this past year, Patagonia stepped in to help cover the rest, Davis said.

Also helping educate consumers, Summit Hut calls special attention to eco-friendly products at its two stores in Tucson and online – pointing out either the material’s environmental benefits or the sustainable way it was made.

In another program supporting the environment, Summit Hut pays for up to 100 days of combined compensation a year for any of its 43 employees to take off work and volunteer for an outdoor-related cause. It could be trail building, teaching skills to scouts or helping study and count an endangered frog in the area. The program not only helps the environment, but also helps staff morale with a chance to get outdoors, Davis said.

There’s still a long list of sustainable practices Summit Hut conducts behind the scenes. It offsets its energy use with wind power, it reuses packaging and shipping materials, and most of its store fixtures are previously used or recycled. Even wooden pallets have been converted into store displays, Davis said.

In addition to all the time, effort, and money donated above, Davis said the store donates about $5,000 in products and cash to outdoor causes per year.

Summit Hut was one of five 2011 SNEWS/Backpacker Retailer of the Year winners announced earlier this year. Stay tuned to SNEWS for 2012’s nomination forms, scheduled to open in June.

--David Clucas



Summit Hut founder sells company to long-time employee

In 1998, Summit Hut Ltd. founder and owner David Baker hired 23-year-old Dana Davis as a new saleswoman working the floor at his outdoor retail shop in Tucson, Ariz. Thirteen years later, he is handing her the company reins, which include two retail stores in Tucson and a global more

Summit Hut Grant Finalists Announced

Each year Summit Hut hosts the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, a collection of inspirational mountain culture films with an environmental message. This year's event is taking place over two days, March 24th and 25th, at the Fox Theatre. For the last few years, a portion more

Summit Hut Community Initiatives

As a retailer that promotes human-powered outdoors and adventure experiences, Summit Hut understands the importance of protecting and preserving our environment. This understanding informs every aspect of our business. In May of 2009, Summit Hut completed the implementation of a more

summit hut building mug

#CoolShop | Why Arizona's Summit Hut believes in the power of concept shops

In 1967, two 15-year-olds named Dave Baker and Jeff Conn discovered that the best way to get their hands on quality outdoor gear was by buying it at wholesale and selling the rest to their friends. They named their business Summit Hut, set up a P.O. box, convinced some vendors to more

Summit Hut

The Innovation Project: Summit Hut, Episode 5

** To watch more episodes of The Innovation Project, click here. Dana Davis was a longtime employee of Summit Hut in Tuscon, Ariz., when she and her husband, Jeremy, bought it from founder David Baker in 2011. Summit Hut started an e-commerce website in 1998—early for a more

Green Scene: REI putting its broad shoulders behind green commitment

When REI announced via a press release in late March that the company was committing to the purchase of wind, landfill gas and solar generated electricity, the company was simply announcing the continued steps in a journey it began several years ago -- a journey REI CEO Sally more

This screen grab from Summit Hut's surveillance video shows the crook using a hammer to smash the electronics case.

Spiderman Thief Hits Summit Hut

Tucson-based Summit Hut suffered another blow over the weekend when a thief, dressed in a Spiderman costume, smashed their front window, dashed to a nearby display, and grabbed $7,300 worth of Garmin, GoPro and Suunto merchandise. Local police are investigating. This is the more


Help your customers find the right ski hut trip

While backcountry access gates and uphill climbing at resorts are fueling the AT ski craze — sales were up 20 percent in the last six months, according to Leisure Trends and Snowsports Industries America — so is the burgeoning trend of hut skiing. There’s hardly a better place more


Dana Davis Q&A: Summit Hut co-owner knows how to beat the heat and keep ahead in outdoor specialty retail

Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and more