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When we walked into Taos Mountain Outfitters on a random trip through New Mexico, we immediately noticed two things: First, the shop was bustling. Second, its owner, Bill Gaydosh, was clearly passionate about the products he was selling, and he was quick to explain the stories behind them to customers who seemed curious.
“I like helping people. When people come in and you put them in a jacket or a pack and you’re helping them get outside, it’s just very rewarding. But my wife and I had no previous experience in retail, so it was a whole life change.”
Gaydosh isn’t a retailer by trade. In fact, he used to lead nuclear waste cleanup operations in Richland, Wash. He and his wife thought running a retail shop in a place closer to the mountains would be a fun change of pace, so they started looking for stores on the market. Taos won them over, so they made the trek. Gaydosh has been revamping the store, adding new brands and moving on from those that haven’t sold well. He’s brought in Mountain Hardwear and beefed up his lines of Patagonia and Columbia apparel. Fashion hats, purses, and high heels—a big part of the former store—are out. Getting rid of them has made more room for hiking boots and a display of Sunday Afternoons hats, which are both fashionable and functional. He brought in Kavu, which makes outdoor-inspired bags with style.
“You can’t just buy the stuff you love. You have to buy the stuff that’s going to appeal to the masses if you want to be in business for any length of time.”
Gaydosh has learned how to sell to his market. Taos has both a vibrant local community, full of outdoorists, and a booming tourist market full of folks coming through town for rafting, hiking, and skiing adventures. There’s one brand of tents he really loves, he said, but his customers weren’t buying them till they hit the sale rack. He figured out that the brand wasn’t well-known in Taos, and customers were looking for something else specifically. So, he made that change.
“We’re not here just to run a store. We want to have a positive effect on the local community.”
Under its previous owners, Taos Mountain Outfitters wasn’t a big hit with the locals, Gaydosh says. But that’s changing. He offers a 10 percent discount to Taos residents on regular-priced merchandise, and the shop makes an effort to support local charities whenever possible. Just a few months ago, they raised $5,000 for Taos Search and Rescue through an in-store gear raffle. He’s also aiming to treat his retail employees as well as possible, through a pretty sweet benefits package for employees. For example, employees can get 401k matching up to 5 percent, and competitive wages for retail shops in the area. By doing so, he makes a job at Taos Mountain Outfitters a desirable one. That’s important in a town with a small local community, and therefore a small hiring pool. “I want to attract the right people to work in our store,” Gaydosh says. “I want people to understand that we’re as committed to them as they are to us.”
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