OKG Shop: Local Summit 

An Edmond company specializing in outdoor gear encourages adventure in Oklahoma.

click to enlarge Native Summit Adventure Outfitters stocks items needed for every kind of outdoor experience, from camping to climbing. - NATIVE SUMMIT ADVENTURE OUTFITTERS / PROVIDED
  • Native Summit Adventure Outfitters / provided
  • Native Summit Adventure Outfitters stocks items needed for every kind of outdoor experience, from camping to climbing.

This year, Native Summit Adventure Outfitters of Edmond rounds the 10-year checkpoint of its trek through the retail wilderness. Since 2008, Native Summit has committed itself to filling Oklahomans’ outdoor supply needs regardless of intensity. Formerly Edmond Summit Company, the shop opted to change its name and logo in 2016 to dismiss the misconception it belonged to a chain and to better describe the nature of its business.

Despite the branding shift, Native Summit remains a humble beacon for many as the pressures of large outlets bombard prospective customers with needless options and unending (and often predatory) specials. Founded and operated by John James, the shop is a center for high-quality products and down-to-earth knowledge and advice. Puzzled by the lack of meaningful outdoor clothing and gear retailers in Oklahoma, James’ interest and frustration encouraged him to open his own storefront.

“I was struggling to find somewhere to shop that was focused on the things I like to do,” he said. “I wasn’t really interested in making a ton of money or anything; I was fine where I was. Still, I felt like at some point, this kind of thing was something that needed to exist here. I don’t envision myself as a retail guy. Native Summit didn’t come from an intention to do or be this. It was more out of a need and love for this passion and these things.”

From the Arbuckle Mountains to the northeastern prairies, Oklahoma is home to a diverse collection of natural formations. Likewise, the crossroad of numerous interstates allow for prompt travel to countless locales in New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and elsewhere. However, there are few retailers that seem too concerned with the state’s landscape and proximity.

 “I always love to stumble into these gear shops I’d find in a mountain town somewhere,” James said. “There were always people there that do whatever is you were in there for and you could get advice from. It was never in Oklahoma, though. We’ve got enough people here that want to get out and do that kind of stuff. And Oklahomans are not afraid to drive for a day to experience the outdoors. They just needed a core-specialty shop to help.”

Despite Native Summit’s emphasis, its products cycle throughout each season. Additionally, James finds it important to be able to satisfy all customers regardless of how intense or mundane their needs.

“When you see Adventure Outfitters below our name, that’s not a marketing ploy,” James said. “You know American Eagle Outfitters, right? Those guys aren’t ‘outfitters,’ clearly. To us, that’s more than a cool thing to add to the end of your shop’s name, but a responsibility to outfit somebody for any adventure outdoors. We strive to do that year-round.”

click to enlarge Native Summit Adventure Outfitters stocks items needed for every kind of outdoor experience, from camping to climbing. - NATIVE SUMMIT ADVENTURE OUTFITTERS / PROVIDED
  • Native Summit Adventure Outfitters / provided
  • Native Summit Adventure Outfitters stocks items needed for every kind of outdoor experience, from camping to climbing.

Local experience

Since Native Summit began its journey, the nature of shopping has shifted dramatically. Though the shop opened its doors in the midst of the online-retail boom, prospective customers still had hesitations about committing to buying apparel online. However, as titans like Amazon have expanded their warehouses exponentially, so too have the specific buying options an individual has at their disposal.

James found in order for Native Summit to thrive, it could not rely on endless sales while trying to keep its finger on the pulse of whatever next month’s consumer zeitgeist might be. Instead, James ensures the products and brands stocked are of quality.

“The funny thing about stocking and sorting the shop is that it involves a little science, but mostly just guesswork,” James said. “I mean, it comes down to a feeling. For example, if I fill up our shop with things I like, believe in and want to use, I think we’re much better off than using any other criteria. We can try and chase a popular trend, but ultimately, I have to believe in something in order to sell it.”

Like many physical stores in the digital age, Native Summit also relies heavily on the customer experience. James finds that the ability to try, ask and learn about a product is key to building rapport and ensuring recurring clients. To this end, he feels Native Summit addresses a glaring problem very few niche and specialty shops attempt to address.

“There’s a lot of core, outdoor specialty shops out-of-state where their sales experts tend to talk down to you,” James said. “It’s as if there’s this need to talk down to you because you’re not on their level. We cannot have that attitude if we’re going to survive. What we need to do is be excited about what people do regardless of what it is if it’s outside. We want this passion for the outdoors to bleed down to everyone that walks in.”

Ultimately, James finds that the passion he and his staff can maintain is of the highest value to their customers. Without a continued passion for the outdoors, of course, there would not be much of a need for an outdoor outfitter.

“At the end of the day, our mission is to inspire people to love the outdoors, whatever the outdoors may mean to them,” James said. “We do and sell a lot of different things, but the most valuable thing we can do for Oklahomans, to inspire them, is priceless.”

Visit thenativesummit.com.

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