In early May, a sign on Ascent Outdoors' main door suddenly marked the end of an era. "We will miss you," the sign read. For more than 20 years, the shop in Seattle's Ballard neighborhood was a meeting spot for the outdoor scene, and its shuttering was devastating and shocking to about 30 employees and thousands of customers. Automatic replies from Owner Solon Scott's email said the store was going through bankruptcy, according to The Seattle Times.
A few days later, Sandeep Nain reached out with interest in buying the shop. Nain graduated from India’s Indian Institute of Technology, which led him to positions at Amazon, Microsoft, and Expedia in the U.S. However, he felt most fulfilled in the mountains of the Northwest and in 2014, Nain started his own mountain guide service and retail business, Miyar Adventures.
Today, Nain is sharing good news: Ascent Outdoors will open again sometime in July—nearly two months after it closed. He said he is committed to delivering the same high level of service and improving the inventory of new and used gear. He also purchased its cycle counterpart, Ascent Cycles.
“I want to bring back the local store, its welcoming nature, personable customer service, quality gear, and community events without competing with the bigger stores," Nain said. "I believe that customer service is the key component of success. Additionally, by being Indian, I want to inspire persons of color that the outdoors is an inclusive environment.”
Nain is open to changes to keep the store successful. Changes could include reducing the footprint, focusing more on customer's interests, or absorbing the bike store back into the main shop.
"I'm up for the challenge," he said.
At least five of the former staff plan to return. The store will reopen in its former location on Ballard Avenue. Greg Shaw, the original shop founder and current property owner, is thrilled.
“I’m looking forward to working with Sandeep," Shaw said. "I feel that he has the business and community experience to make the shop successful. He’s passionate about the outdoors and has a very well developed business sense.”
Nain developed the fundraising climbing program for Seattle’s Asha for Education Chapter, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the support of basic education in India. He also has served with Everett Mountain Rescue for five years, and has been an instructor with Seattle Mountaineers and a member since 2005.
“Sandeep Nain is a vital part of the greater outdoor community in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re thrilled to hear he’s purchased Ascent Outdoors," Mountaineers CEO Tom Vogl said. "...Sandeep has made supporting and giving back to outdoor enthusiasts his personal mission. He’s a wonderful ambassador for all aspiring outdoors people, especially the Indian American community, and his efforts are making the outdoors more accessible to everyone. We wish him the best of luck as he reinvigorates the Ascent Outdoors brand.”
As swift as its shuttering, Nain's ownership marks the beginning of Ascent Outdoors' newest era.