The Great Lakes Gear Exchange, which sells secondhand outdoor items at its monthly popup events, is opening a storefront this fall in Duluth.
Since its launch in January, the owners say they’ve heard consistently positive feedback and from people encouraging them to open a storefront. This, and the ability to further their missions of sustainability and increased access to the outdoors, pushed the business to open and fundraise for a storefront in Duluth’s Central Hillside neighborhood.
Owners Brooke Wetmore and Emily Richey have been running monthly pop-up shops out of Duluth Folk School, where they sell secondhand items for a multitude of outdoor activities.
“We’ve been hearing people say, ‘This is awesome. Are you going to open a store front?!’” Richey said.
Now they’re doing just that. The company is renting a space at 510 E. Fourth St., near The King of Creams, and plans to open it in around one month.
Richey said they plan to fill the 2,500-square foot space with even more outdoor items than what they currently offer, as well as a trip-planning nook and several repair stations.
Having this space allows them to sell more items, which Richey said reduces waste as the items aren’t going to landfills. It also increases accessibility to the outdoors because people can get advice in the store and help with planning trips — no matter if the trips are hikes through Chester Bowl or dayslong adventures in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
“We also want to get more people outside, and so being open more than one day a month will significantly help that,” she said.
After opening, Richey said they’ll eventually set up three repair stations — one for bikes, one for skis and the other will be a sewing machine. People can rent the stations for a small fee and parts will be available for purchase if needed.
This furthers the gear exchange's goal of sustainability and will help people give new life to old gear, she said, because many people can’t buy entire repair stations for their items.
They launched a crowdsourcing campaign to help fund the store through iFundWomen, an online platform that helps women gain access to capital. Initially, they had a goal of $5,000 — and quickly met it within a five days, Richey said.
“It’s phenomenal. It goes to show the excitement that Duluth has for this idea of a gear exchange,” she said.
They then extended the goal to $10,000, which would fully support all of the store’s initial operations. As of Tuesday night, over $5,300 was raised.
“We’re in this business to have jobs and support ourselves, but to (also) give life to new gear” and get more people outside,” she said.