For the last 37 years, Keene Valley, NY’s Mountaineer outdoor shop has been the hub for the great Adirondack area. The small town of 1,000 is the gateway for throngs of adventurers who play in the vast wilderness of upstate New York. Living at the base of the range on Route 73, owner Vinny McClelland says they’re on “the main drag for the all the surrounding small towns—like Montreal, Albany, New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.”
The shop itself is a 5,000 square foot open-air barn, with a high vaulted ceiling and exposed beams and framework. An antiquated wooden canoe hangs suspended above the shop floor, as artifacts of climbing and other trappings of outdoor history line the walls. Much of the Mountaineer’s merchandise is cleverly displayed, offering a unique browsing experience to anyone who passes through the front door. A recently renovated book room was re-attached after Tropical Storm Irene did structural damage to the building. The addition remains true to the shop’s rustic allure, yet introduces a slightly modern feel as well.
Since his parents started the shop in 1975, Vinny has seen the Mountaineer steadily grow to become the de facto hub for climbers, hikers and skiers—fishermen too—of every discipline who travel to these mountains. Thousands of people have made their way to the Mountaineer to get outfitted for their outdoor pursuits. Their reputation of being knowledgeable, passionate purveyors is why they’ve remained in business for so long.
They also have the stock. From a simple pair of trail runners to fully outfitting a climber headed for an 8000-meter peak, the Mountaineer has the products and knowledge to set people up right. Vinny says the two SCARPA products he has the most affection for are the Kailash GTX and the Maestrale. “We have been partners with SCARPA for many many years. We have complete confidence in their products. We value our relationship and the support SCARPA has always given us.”
McClelland attributes the success to his staff. “The people who work here are hardcore users and very knowledgeable,” he says. Each employee is in charge of a part of the store, specializing in merchandise that they themselves use and test on a regular basis. Because the Adirondacks offer so much variety in terrain and access, employees have a great testing facility to get real time, hands on experience.
The Mountaineer is a community player too. With a long standing mountaineering festival, backcountry ski festival and many other local events, the shop has supported Search and Rescue, ski touring councils and kids programs throughout the area. “In the last 18 years, we’ve contributed $70,000 back to the community,” says McClelland. It’s good for business, which he contends is what they’d like to keep doing. “We want to continue to do a good job,” he says. “Introduce people to these activities, develop good relationships, and keep them long term.”