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Based on the makeup of its newest doors, Seattle-based retailer evo is betting big on the booming gear rental market. And the simple fact that the company is expanding signals that it has adeptly navigated the pandemic and plans to capitalize on its success.
Evo, which made a splash in outdoor retail after launching at the tail end of the dot-com boom in 2001, plans to open two “satellite” stores this summer at Snoqualmie Pass in Washington and in Hood River, Oregon. Smaller than evo’s flagship locales in Seattle; Portland, Oregon; Denver; and Whistler, B.C., these locations will be highly focused on gear rentals.
“At our satellite locations, we’ll be offering an unmatched selection of high-quality rental equipment for everyone, regardless of skill level,” said Pete Citrano, evo director of retail. “Our goal is to make it as fast and easy as possible for you to get exactly what you need.”
The evo satellites will offer full-service ski, snowboard, and bike shops, plus an “assortment of essential gear that’s well suited for local adventures.” Each store also will be co-located with a local restaurant—Laconia Market & Café in Snoqualmie and KickStand Coffee & Kitchen in Hood River—and will have a community focus.
“Our Hood River and Snoqualmie Pass locations will be focused on engaging the local communities through events, art, and music,” Bryce Phillips, founder and CEO of evo, told Outside Business Journal. “We’ll be partnering with local nonprofits, especially those dedicated to providing underserved youth opportunities to get outside. Through both employee volunteerism and financial support for organizations that do great work, we are really looking forward to driving positive outcomes across the board.”
Phillips told OBJ he sees these satellite locations as a “new kind of resource for people seeking sanctuary and connection in the outdoors.” Evo sees gear rentals as a critical link in that connection.
“We want to make the outdoors as accessible as possible, knowing the positive impact that it has on people’s lives,” Phillips said. “We view rentals as an essential bridge that helps both existing and new participants get out there.”
In fact, the Snoqualmie and Hood River stores follow another rental play that evo made earlier this year in Denver, where it already operates one of its “experience and community centers,” as the retailer calls its flagship stores.
In January, the company paid $1.2 million for a 6,240-square-foot space in Denver that will soon become a new location. Once home to a pawn shop, the building sits across an alley from evo’s flagship store in Denver’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. Citrano told Denver business publication BusinessDen that the company will move its rental operations to the new space, clearing the way for more retail offerings at its main store while also doubling down on gear rental business in the city.
The move is further proof of the resiliency of the outdoors during the pandemic—and of evo’s ability to quickly tap into rising demand for both gear purchasing and gear rental.
“We feel that our customers in Denver have shown that they deserve this,” Citrano told BusinessDen. “We need more space to make more people happy, and the purchase is a good investment. Denver is only getting bigger and developing more and more, and we’re in a position that we’re fortunate to have done exceptionally well throughout the pandemic.”