By Megan Northcote
Nov. 14, 2012. Rio Sawhill is a self-professed “recovering addict” from shopping on eBay for outdoor clothes and gear at reduced prices to give to friends as gifts.
“Anybody that likes buying outdoor gear has that feeling of a kid in a candy shop,” Sawhill said. “There’s a great satisfaction in having so much gear and not knowing what to do with it, but knowing that you got it for a great price.”
This addiction – buying and selling quality outdoor gear for a reasonable price – is largely what inspired Rio and his wife Ashley to bring Regear, a local consignment store for outdoor equipment, to Boone.
Located at 967 Rivers St., Regear, which will feature an indoor rock climbing wall, is tentatively scheduled to open Friday, Nov. 30.
This Saturday between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m., Regear will begin accepting gear and clothing for consignment and will host a chili cook-off, sponsored by local restaurants competing to whip up the best pot of chili in the High Country. The event is free and open to the public.
Regear accepts any kind of gently used, high quality gear and clothing for all ages for snow sports, paddling, rock and ice climbing, camping, backpacking, cycling and yoga.
Team sport gear or exercise gear, like treadmills or weights, are not accepted. Children’s clothing is highly desired.
All gear should be thoroughly cleaned and in proper working order before being brought to the store at seasonally appropriate times (preferably no ski poles and snowboards in June!).
Eventually, there will be a bin for people to sell “singles” of their gear, such as one hiking pole or one glove.
Consignment prices operate on a sliding scale. Items valued at $50 or less receive 50 percent cash back or 55 percent store credit with percentages increasing for more expensive items.
“We want to allow people to experience the outdoors safely and properly equipped at an affordable cost,” Rio said. “We hope to reuse and repurpose gear that’s been sitting around in people’s closets not getting used.”
Rio and Ashley have always felt a strong connection to nature and the outdoors. Rio has worked as a rafting guide at River and Earth Adventures in Boone and he and his wife have both served as counselors for outdoor summer camps.
“When Rio and I got married, we traveled a lot and our vacations always centered around being able to explore where we went,” Ashley said. “Whether it was ancient ruins or the coast, our travels centered around being in nature.”
When the couple moved to Boone in 2009 to continue their outdoor adventures, Rio was particularly surprised that no outdoor consignment shop existed in the area.
This February, while taking an online business course at Caldwell Community College, Rio analyzed a business plan for an outdoor gear consignment shop, which sparked an idea.
“As I read the business plan, I realized the fictional town in Eugene, Oregon being described sounded just like Boone,” Rio said. “Close to a university and a major metropolitan area and about 30,000 people year round. I thought they’re describing Boone.”
From there, over the next few months, Rio’s ideas fell perfectly into place.
In June, the couple spoke with Russ Towers, owner of Second Gear, another outdoor consignment shop in Asheville.
At first, Ashley was a bit hesitant with pursuing her husband’s dream.
Towers informed the couple that the most often asked question he receives from his customers is “When is a store like this going to open in Boone?”
After four hours of financial and logistical consulting with Towers, Ashley was convinced and the rest is history.
To ensure financial stability in the months following the store’s grand opening, Regear is using an online crowd funding campaign called Indiegogo where individuals are rewarded based on their monetary donation amount.
Donor prizes are valued anywhere from $10 cups of Bald Guy Brew Coffee to $1,000 rock climbing trips through Linville Gorge with two friends.
Rio hopes the campaign will raise $10,000 for the store by Dec. 24.
As a way of giving back to the outdoor community, Rio plans to partner with local non-profits focused on environment education and outdoor access, such as Mountain Alliance, Climbing for MS (Multiple Sclerosis), American Alpine Club, and many others.
These organizations will each receive 3 percent of Regear’s quarterly profit.
Profit from any equipment donated by community members instead of sold through the consignment process will go directly to these organizations in full.
“There has been so much community support,” Rio said. “This store is one of the few things in my life that I’ve told someone about and almost unequivocally everyone has said ‘that’s a good idea.’”
For more information contact Rio Sawhill at [email protected] or at 828-406-7767.
To donate to Indiegogo, visit the store’s website at regearnc.com.