Another One Bites the Dust: Longtime (and Beloved) Specialty Retailer Mountain Gear Plans to Shutter Doors

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Mountain Gear founder and owner Paul Fish (center) in front of his Spokane store with his esteemed staff. (Photo courtesy Mountain Gear)

Cue up the Queen music: Another specialty shop has thrown in the towel on the tough outdoor (and paddlesports) market, with Spokane, Wash.’s Mountain Gear recently announcing it is shuttering its doors. The news follow’s November’s announcement that longtime California outdoor retailer Adventure 16 would be closing its two remaining stores.

While mainly known as a climbing store,Mountain Gearalso carried a substantial paddlesports line, including equipment and apparel from such brands as MTI, ExtraSport, AquaGlide, Werner, NRS, Astral and more. The store announced in late December that, due to increased online competition, it would be will be closing its doors this winter/spring.

“With all the lakes and rivers around our area, paddlesports was successfully added to our mix about three years after we opened the store,” says founder and owner Paul Fish, who opened his store in 1983. “It’s been an incredibly dynamic category. We’ve watched and tried to anticipate the shifts in participation from sea kayaking and canoeing to SUPs and recreation kayaks over the past three decades. I loved selling paddlesports because it was the entry into the outdoors for so many families in our area.”

Before opening the store, Fish was a longtime backpack maker who turned his knack for packs into a thriving specialty outlet.

“When we opened Mountain Gear in 1983, we had a driving mission: to help people get outdoors in pursuit of adventure,” he said in his store’s FaceBook post on the announcement. “Now, after 37 years, it’s time to pack up. Mountain Gear will be closing our store in Spokane and our online business.

“Our home-grown business owes an enormous thank you to our Spokane area friends, some of whom have been shopping with us since Day 1,” the post added. “Whether you’re a third-generation customer who’s brought in your own kids to shop, or a Mountain Gear newbie, we’re grateful for your support. Like our employees, our customers share a passion for the outdoors, for exploration and adventure. It’s been our privilege to help fuel your passion.”

The response to the announcement was both supportive and widespread.

“Such a sad day,” posted one longtime shopper. “All I have to do is look at my closet (loaded with fleece, jackets, shoes, boots, etc. from your store, or our garage with kayaks, paddles, & paddling gear to know how much you’ve contributed to the fun I’ve had outdoors over the years.”

Paddlesports retailers are equally disheartened.

“Mountain Gear was one of our original PFD dealers for Astral, and it’s unfortunate to hear they are closing their doors after so many years” says Astral sales manager

Bryan Owen. “It surely leaves a void in the paddling community, and we wish our friends from Mountain Gear the best as they navigate this change.”

The store’s first location served a core group of climbers, backpackers, and mountaineers. A few years later, it re-located to its current site at 2002 North Division Street, complete with an indoor climbing wall and kayak rolling pool. It started publishing catalogs in 1993 and launched its popular mountaingear.com website in 1995.