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All Things Outdoors

Etna Creek Outfitters…

Growing up on a farm and ranch in central Oregon, Meg and Alison Pick learned how to work together by paying close attention to each other’s needs. “We’ve always had that kind of camaraderie. When we used to be working with cattle, we were able to see what needed to be done and just say, OK, you go this way, I’ll go that way. And it worked,” recalls Alison, the daughter in this mother-daughter team. Now they’re applying the lessons they learned in the field to being co-owners of an outdoor store in downtown Etna. “For us, it was easy to spill over into a retail business because we were already used to listening to each other’s ideas.” Alison adds with a laugh, “Some people go, ‘Oh my gosh, how do you work with your mom?’ I’m like, ‘What are you talking about? I love my mom.’”

Photos courtesy of Etna Creek Outfitters

Called Etna Creek Outfitters, the store caters to all things outdoors. “One of the biggest misconceptions we heard when the store first opened was that we were only here for the Pacific Crest Trail hikers. And then we had a few people roll in that were horsemen in the back country, and they’re like, ‘Oh, hey, we use some of this gear.’ And then, they’d say, ‘Oh, look at that stove. That’s 10 pounds lighter than the stove we have.’ I always laugh because so much of what we have crosses over to just about anything you’re doing outdoors,” says Alison.

In fact, the idea to open the store was based on filling what she and her mother saw was a gap in the community. “We saw the need, of course, for something to cater to the Pacific Crest Trail hiking community that has always loved Etna as a re-supply stop. But we also wanted to support all the other outdoor activities in the area, from hunting to farming. People who work outdoors need good boots and warm socks and nice jackets. There’s even gear for car camping, moto camping and packing into the mountains with horses.”

Photos courtesy of Etna Creek Outfitters

To that point, Alison says of lot of their sourcing comes from listening to customers. “Someone in the community will come in and say, ‘Hey, you know, it’s cold. Do you carry a certain kind of leather insulated glove?’ And we’ll look into having that in stock.” Alison does note a small caveat to that. “As much as we would love to have absolutely everything, we also have a small footprint.”

Meg agrees with Alison on all points, and expresses how important it was to them to open a physical business instead of doing something online. “I think that choosing a brick-and-mortar store seemed almost like a throwback when we thought about it. And we really didn’t know. But there seems to be a comeback. People will sometimes ask us if we’re going to sell online, and we’re like, ‘No, you can shop online any day of the week, anytime of the day.’ But I think being able to come in and talk to people is important, and we definitely have a lot of talking going on during the day.”

Photos courtesy of Etna Creek Outfitters

Meg says the customers have tended to agree. “People express to us all the time how happy they are that we’re here. They like to come in and shop for real instead of online, where you can touch things, feel things, try things on, look around and see other things you might not have thought about.” Alison also describes the energy of being downtown. “With Denny Bar coming in, and the new restaurants and salons, and the Avery Theater right next door, it’s totally awesome being a part of a Main Street that is coming back to life.” 

Photos courtesy of Etna Creek Outfitters

Alison says one of her favorite offerings at the store is the sock exchange program they offer through Darn Tough Socks of Vermont. “The exchange is basically that if you have a pair of Darn Tough Socks and you get a hole in them, you can bring them in and exchange them for a new pair. But some mom-and-pop shops and even some of the bigger outdoor stores don’t honor the exchange anymore. They’ll tell you to go straight through the company. But when those hikers come into our shop and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, we heard on the trail that you guys actually honor the exchange. Is that true?’, and we tell them yes, it’s like their eyes light up. They get so excited, and they’re like, ‘I’ll go wash ‘em right now.’” In terms of future offerings, Alison and Meg are weighing the possibilities of gear rentals, among other things. But as a team, they are totally aligned. “We are always open to new ideas and hearing what our customers want.” •

Etna Creek Outfitters • 434 Main St., Etna • (530) 467-4034
Find them on Facebook and Instagram
Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 5pm

About Megan Peterson

Megan has been a freelance storyteller for more than two decades, with writing credits ranging from National Geographic to the Sundance Channel. She also brings a background in marketing and audio tours and has traveled and worked on six continents. Megan currently lives in Siskiyou County with her family and a menagerie of pets.

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