For anyone living out their dreams in the Ozarks of northwest Arkansas, Pack Rat Outdoor Shop has been the stronghold of gear and service for almost four decades. In 1973 Scott and Carolyn Crook didn’t have a resource for paddling gear, so they decided to start their own shop to provide quality goods to their area. Since then, they’ve grown to celebrate all sorts of adventure sports that live in the Arkansas hills and rivers. This coming spring Pack Rat will be commemorating its 40th anniversary.
The shop sees little turnover in staff. Many of the current employees have been working at Pack Rat for over a decade—no small affair given the natural recycling that’s associated with college towns throughout the American landscape. So, why Pack Rat?
“The Crooks are great people, and are a pleasure to work for,” says manager Rick Spicer, who’s been with them for thirteen years. “Plus, they’ve always allowed me to take off as much time as I could afford to take, which has been invaluable.”
Pack Rat has made a practice of teaching its employees how to sell something, but more importantly, why to sell a particular product to a specific customer. It’s not just about moving product. “We want to sell good experiences,” says Spicer. Creating relationships and selling products that they can get behind makes the experience better for everyone. Luckily, it’s no stretch to get employees to gush about products they love—and get to use on a regular basis.
That positive work environment begins with the building itself. The current structure is a testament to agrarian styling: a 15,000 sq. ft. log cabin made from Montana lodge pole pine. All the logs were standing dead timber harvested and shipped to Arkansas. A local company comprised of Amish carpenters then assembled it on site. A huge, open store with a mezzanine, Pack Rat is a breeze through which to drift, no matter how big your aspirations.
If you go online to the Pack Rat website, you’ll notice the vast majority of their content focuses on community and the events that celebrate the outdoor lifestyle, a long tradition at the shop. “The Climbers’ Rendezvous originally started 25 years ago by a former Pack Rat employee,” says Spicer. “15 years ago when Blake was killed we renamed it the Blake Croxdale Memorial Climbers Rendezvous. Blake worked at the Rat and used to have shoe demos, and we have carried on that tradition. We raise money with our gear raffle to support a scholarship fund his parents set up.” The festival, coming to Sam’s Throne in the Ozark National Forest this coming Oct.20th, draws climbers from all over the south.
Pack Rat is composed of people who love what they do, love Arkansas, and want to provide the best experience they can for their customers. “We’ve had the same owners for 40 years,” says Spicer. “We just want to be the best at what we do, and hopefully have some fun doing it.”
SCARPA is proud to be part of the history of adventure. We like celebrating the people and places that shape and color our way of life. We’re most definitely grateful to the brand fans at the consumer level who buy our footwear season after season to pursue the outdoor sports they love, but another group very close to our team is the specialty retailers that make our products available to the public. These merchants all have unique stories, teams and roots that run as deep as those of the SCARPA brand. Our Retailer of the Month feature here on the SCARPA blog is designed to shed a little more light on why we work with the retailers that we do here at SCARPA North America, and what you’ll find going on behind the counter at some of the nation’s best specialty shops.