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Many couples share a love for the outdoors, but these six are taking it to the next level. In some ways it makes perfect sense – they love each other, they love the outdoors, so why not turn a passion into a career? But working together has it’s down side, and it isn’t always easy.
“We often find it difficult to step away from work,” says April Peterson, co-owner of River Rock Outfitters. She and her fellow owner and husband Keith talk shop constantly. “It really is all consuming making the engine run,” she says.
The other couples echo that sentiment, including Pack Rat Outdoor Center owners Scott and Carolyn Crook. “The worst part about owning the store together is that we don’t have time to do the things we previously did outdoors,” Carolyn says. “The store comes first.”
While the pairs have disagreements and need to learn how to navigate this unique situation together, all agree there is no doubt it’s worth it. “The best part about owning a store together is building something together,” says Jordan Lapekas, co-owner of Lake Powell Paddleboards, with her husband, Joe. “It’s our ‘baby’ and we have loved growing it and seeing it be successful thanks to our joint efforts.
A match made in the great outdoors
Scott Crook and Carolyn Crook | Pack Rat Outdoor Center
In 1973 on a hike with friends, Scott and Carolyn decided their town of Fayetteville, Arkansas needed an outdoor gear shop, and they were going to be the ones to start it. The two have loved watching their store grow and overcoming obstacles as a team.
Their key to success: Carolyn says there is such a thing as too much togetherness. She kept her day job to “keep sanity in one life” at least.
Troy Kattreh & Pam Schwarzbach | Hive of Madison
Pam and Troy have worked together their entire 24-year relationship and balance three full time jobs – running their outdoor store, a rep agency, and parenting. “The store is a culmination of 30 years of working in the outdoor industry, and it has been very rewarding to be able to pool our experiences and knowledge into this project,” Pam says.
Their key to success: Leave work at work so they still have time for each other at home.
Jordan Lapekas and Joe Lapekas | Lake Powell Paddleboards
Jordan and Joe skipped dinner and a movie for their first date in 2012. Instead, they went paddleboarding. They decided to open a paddleboard shop just for fun when they found Lake Powell and realized there wasn’t one here.
Fun fact about the couple: In 2012, the couple set out to paddle in all 50 states. Over 2 years and 120,000 miles later, they accomplished their goal.
April & Keith Peterson | River Rock Outfitters
After years of being apart during their service with the Marine Corps, April and Keith wanted to spend as much time as they could together. Thus their Fredericksburg, Virginia outdoor store was born. While they often find it difficult to step away from work, knowing that their store is something they are building together from the ground up makes it all worthwhile.
One fun fact about the couple: They trekked in Nepal for the first time this past fall as a part of their community’s Sister City program. They loved it so much, they established an adventure travel component to the business and will start to guide trips to Nepal in 2019.
Ciara de los Reyes & Todd Wroblewski | Outsider Breck
Ciara and Todd’s game plan for success as a couple is dividing and conquering the tasks at their Breckenridge, Colorado store.
“We know what we’re both good at and try not to step on each other’s toes,” Ciara says. Their relationship has grown with the opportunity to collaborate on a creative level and to learn how to communicate effectively together.
Fun fact about their store: The clothing, footwear, and accessories are all either recycled polyester, organic cotton, sustainably sourced textiles, or ethically raised wool.
Travis Underwood & Lisa Cramton | Chopwood Mercantile
“We have transparent communication and boundaries,” Travis explains, of his Crested Butte store. Keeping those in check is critical, he says. Each has their individual pursuits outside of the store so they make sure to spend time apart. Plus, at the store, Travis manages the backend, and Lisa manages the front of the house and merchandising.