Seattle's Ascent Outdoors suddenly closes after 23 years

Customers and vendors alike consider it a major loss.
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The smiling staff of Ascent Outdoors in Seattle, Washington, behind the cash register.

The leadership staff at Ascent Outdoors spoke to SNEWS in July 2018 as part of GoLite's listening tour with specialty retailers.

Less than a year after Seattle's Ascent Outdoors opened a second location and not even a month after celebrating its 23rd anniversary, the business has unexpectedly shuttered all three of its doors. 

The business has not made any official announcements about the closure, other than a sign on the doors at the Ballard location saying that they're closed for business. On Monday, customers began posting photos and commenting on the store's Facebook page with questions about returns, rentals, and spending gift cards, in light of the closure.

GoLite Brand Manager Josh Clifford hadn't heard the news when SNEWS called him to ask for a comment. He said he has been going to Ascent Outdoors for 20 years, after he met the former owner—an adventure rider—at his previous job at BMW. GoLite was a vendor.

"Ascent was one of the handful of legitimate small outdoor shops, when you go in there you can trust everyone," he said. "I think that community in Ballard just cultivates authentic businesses...In the culture of gastropubs and hip trendy boutiques, that was still one of the cornerstones of what makes Seattle—and its outdoor scene—awesome."

The Seattle Times reported that while Ascent Outdoor has not yet filed for bankruptcy, the store's attorney said they're planning on it. SNEWS left a message with the attorney, Thomas D. Neeleman of Neeleman Law Group, but has not heard back. 

The store originally began as a consignment sporting goods store under the name Second Bounce, but outdoor gear slowly worked its way into the inventory. It rebranded as Second Ascent in 2001 and launched a full-service outdoor retail store and bike shop. Fifteen years later, the bike shop moved and became Ascent Cycles and the next year, the store became Ascent Outdoors—one of the staple shops in Seattle's recreation community and the coveted Ballard neighborhood.