At Royal Robbins we value our retailer network and their passion for the outdoors. This is the first post in a series focusing on our retailers throughout the country.
Summit Hut, located in Tucson, Arizona had a very practical start. In 1969, founder David Baker was camping with his friend. They were both 14 at the time and did not have warm enough gear for their mountain campsite. Together, they decided that in order to get the right outdoor gear for themselves and their friends, they would just have to open their own store.
Originally working out of their bedrooms, Baker and his partner created a hand-typed, hand-drawn catalog of gear to sell, storing the merchandise under their beds. From there they moved their business to a 500-square-foot building across from their high school. The store was only open during the week; weekends were for climbing. At 16, Baker bought out his business partner for $40 and took over Summit Hut.
Today, Summit Hut is still going strong. A “little big family”, company culture is defined as team oriented “gear heads” with everyone pitching in where they can. No one says “that’s not my job”. When the store gets busy, you’ll see people from different departments lending a hand on the sales floor. Jim Harsha, the first employee Baker ever hired, is still there 40 years later and many stay 10+ years. Passionate about the outdoors, many employees can be found before or after work hours hiking, biking, and night trail running, a popular pastime in the desert climate of Arizona. They also encourage each other to try new outdoor activities.
“I just went on a 4-hour bike ride this morning with some people from work before work” said Dana Davis, co-owner of Summit Hut. “There is a sense of belonging. People make an effort to get to know each other”.
One of the things that sets Summit Hut apart from other outdoor retailers is their footwear and fitting process. They go above and beyond just finding you a good pair of boots. Each footwear employee attends an 8-hour training class just on fitting and modifying footwear. Topics covered in this class include custom insoles, which socks to wear and proper lacing techniques. The Summit Hut also offers custom boot molding to further ensure you get the perfect pair of boots.
“Customers sometimes come back with other shoes from home for help with fitting!” said Davis.
Beyond their commitment to quality gear, the people of Summit Hut are actively involved in their local community. The Summit Hut regularly features free classes in store that cover a variety of subjects, from rafting the Grand Canyon, to outdoor preparedness to hummingbird rescue.
They also give back. Volunteering is part of company culture, with Summit Hut offering up to 100 days of paid time for employees to go out and volunteer with an organization of their choosing.
So, if you’re ever in Tucson, make sure to stop by for a pack fitting, or advice on which trails are the best for day trips, maybe take in a free class, and of course, check out their gear selection.