Climbing/Hiking Footwear Business Concept
My name is Rachael and I'm a student at Ohio University, working on a business concept.
The concept is for a local, specialized climbing and hiking footwear retail shop in Boulder, CO.
For serious climbers/hikers out there, would you rather shop at a super store such as REI to get your shoes/gear, from somewhere online, or at a local specialized store (only selling footwear and accessories/some gear).
Why or why not? All opinions, suggestions, and questions are welcome!
Are you an i.d. student or a business student?
To answer your question, I would much rather shop at a small, local owned shop... so long as they have a good selection.
A huge benefit of buying my climbing shoes from REI is the ability to return them if they don't fit. Although I have yet to actually return a pair, the peace of mind is why I buy from them.
No because we already have:
Neptune(been here ages)
REI(though lots of climbers i know boycott rei)
Rock and Resole(recently started selling climbing shoes, they carry all of the models that other stores in the area do not)
MooseJaw has a store here
Patagonia has a store here
North Face has a store here
Scarpa distribution center is here
La Sportiva distribution center is here
Not to mention the shit load of running shoe stores that sell trail runners and similar shoes.
Also shoes are sold at movement gym I believe.
I think your concept is cool(albeit unoriginal), but Boulder is not the right town for it as we already have so many options for hiking and climbing footwear/gear.
I don't mean to come off as a dick, but it would be an extremely tough market to break into and it does not provide anything unique or new to the area.
First, welcome to Mountain Project Rachel. Thanks for not asking for free stuff your first day. Hopefully your a climber and not just a random person gathering free marketing info from what amounts to a core group of real climbers from across the country.
I would NOT shop at a shoe specialty store. I've been to several "climbing" shops across the country when on climbing trips. I'm consistently disappointed in their selection. Why? Because my local climbing shop is probably one of the top in the country: Rock and Snow. They have a really nice selection of climbing shoes, almost every piece of gear imaginable, soft goods, backpacks, four seasons, plus the camping/backpacking basics you'll need for longer adventures. They aren't Campmor (has EVERYTHING for EVERY sport), but they are still my go to shop. I don't shop at REI or EMS or other mega stores for a variety of reasons. If I do go in a mega store, I'm highly unlikely to make a purchase.
Here are my thoughts: you can't JUST specialize in a niche part (shoes) of a niche market (climbing) and put it in a location where it is not a niche (Boulder). If you really want to have a REAL business plan, put a REAL climbing shop in Rumney, NH or some other location that has mega-climbing and no real gear shop. Make it local. Your business plan should include putting some of your profits back into the community. You should hire real people who have opinions and participate in the sports. And treat people well with a good return policy.
I agree with Trice, the Boulder market is almost over saturated for climbing and hiking footware. He only mentioned stores in Boulder - they are many more within a reasonable drive from Boulder, such as Bentgate in Golden, plus others in Denver.
One of the first tenants of business is "don't storm strong walls!"
A productive line of research might be to research areas with many climbers which is underserved by retail like you are contemplating.
I personally shop at all types of stores. I shop at REI because of the prices, return policy, and the dividend. I shop at specialty stores such as Neptune or Mountain Tools (Online) when I need more specialized gear or a size that a store like REI doesn't carry (my girlfriend wears size 35 European in climbing shoes).
I will shop locally owned if the owners and employees are knowledgeable, curteous, and the prices are reasonable. However, some owners/employees at these kinds of stores can have arrogant attitudes which have me running for the doors.
I lived in Jackson Hole for twelve years and shopped at Teton Mountaineering, a shop very similar to Neptune. I understand that considerably more than 50% of their profit comes from women's clothing. Neptune started out as a niche market offering climbing shoe resoling with a little bit of climbing gear. Now Neptune is a very comprehensive outdoor shop. I think the diversification is necessary to be profitable, be profitable during all seasons, and to weather economic downturns.