Archive for the 'Company Culture' Category

Charlotte staff day at UCNWC Team Development Center

Friday, November 4th, 2011

by Amanda, Charlotte staff

The staff from our Charlotte shop, sponsored in part by our friends at Ex Officio, was able to spend a chilly but exciting morning working together at the Team Development Center of the US National Whitewater Center on 30 October. Tucked into the woods above the man-made river, the Team Development Center offers 22 different ground-level Low Elements and a series of High Elements 32 feet above the ground.

Eleven staff members, whose tenures with GOPC range from 12 years to just one day, faced a variety of team and individual challenges. Our day began as the sun came up on a brisk, 30 degree morning, but we are fortunately all familiar with the advantages of good layering. Staying warm was the least of the challenges we faced!

After a short game to get the blood moving, our first challenge was the “Team Triangle,” which involved moving all eleven team members from a platform, around a steel cable strung between trees, and back to the platform, without touching the ground. As a group, we jumped right in, tackling the problem head-on and developing our strategy as we went. We had only one slight mishap (a team member touched the ground) with the consequence that another person was blindfolded for the remainder of the task. The challenge was one we all enjoyed, and were happy to see our well our trust and communication skills helped us succeed.

Next up was another of the center’s Low Elements, the “Nitro Swing.” This challenge involved moving each team member, one at time, on to individual platforms using a rope swing. Complicating matters, we were also challenged to move a cup of water from one side to the other. In this case, our challenge was to work together to enable every one to achieve the same goal. It was quickly apparent that each of us has different needs, and required a slightly different approach to the challenge. We were successful because we were able to acknowledge our own individual strengths and weaknesses, and use them to achieve our group goal. Things were a little dicey as we moved the water from one side to another, but we managed it without spilling a drop.

Feeling pretty confident in ourselves, we moved next to the High Elements. Properly harnessed up, we split into teams of 3 and 4 to move together across steel cables through a variety of obstacles. The high elements challenged us to navigate around and over various obstacles, leap from platform to platform, and do it all balanced on a steel cable 32 feet above the forest floor. We quickly realized that the key to success is our ability to rely on one another for support, both literally and mentally. Even though a few of us took some spills, everyone managed to reach the zip line at the end of the high ropes course and enjoy a quick ride back to the ground.

Angie, who was our facilitator for the day, and her assistant Gill were enthusiastic supporters, and with their encouragement we were all successful. The challenges we faced together at the Team Development Center reinforced for us the importance of communication and team work, and certainly renewed our sense of team spirit.

>> Learn more about the USNCW with this virtual tour

Trip photos on FLICKR

Shoppers Donate Coats thru 7th Annual Coat Swap

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

Customers of Great Outdoor Provision Co. can get more than a great deal on outdoor gear this month – they can help provide a coat to a neighbor in need.

During the last week of October the locally owned Great Outdoor Provision Co. reaches out to community missions and delivers coats for the homeless during their 7th Annual Great Outdoor Coat Swap.  Customers who donate a clean used jacket will receive a 20% discount off the regular price of selected outerwear  Last year’s Coat Swap delivered nearly 2500 jackets to the needy. Mountain Hardwear has provided support for this effort.

“I’ve always known our customers are special.” comments Tom Valone, owner.   “Every time we sponsor a charity drive our and customers come through, I’m reminded why I love this business.”

Bruce Storer, director of development for the Raleigh Rescue Mission in downtown Raleigh, remarks on last year’s Coat Swap and says “It’s a significant gift. This is the time of year that we really need coats as well as food and blankets. We’re blessed to have this relationship with Great Outdoor Provision Co.”

If you want to do more—or are looking for volunteer opportunities this season—local shelters and missions always need warm clothes, blankets and food during the winter. Here’s a list of rescue missions in the seven communities we do business in; you can call them or check their Web sites for the best way to help:

The annual Coat Swap program is one of several philanthropic efforts the Great Outdoor Provision Co. and its customers help support. Others includeHabitat for Humanitylocal land trustsScouting (both boy’s and girl’s organizations), and the N.C Wildlife Federation.

Founded in 1972, the Great Outdoor Provision Co. is a family-owned retailer of clothing and gear for outdoor recreation enthusiasts and has seven stores in North Carolina cities. Learn more at

TOMS Style Your Sole Event Photos

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We carry TOMS Shoes because they are a great casual shoe that helps improve the lives of children around the world. With every pair you purchase, TOMS will give a pair of new shoes to a child in need.

On September 24 Trusty got together with local artists in the Raleigh area and threw a Style Your Sole party so that our customers could express themselves and help children in need by customizing their own blank, canvas TOMS.

The day features local artists Matt Butler, Nina Wu, Paul Friedrich, Chris Williams, Julie Pitts, AdAm Peele along with local bluegrass music provide by Backcounty Still.

Enjoy the pictures from the day.

Vintage Patagonia on Display in Raleigh

Monday, September 19th, 2011

This Wednesday night we are showcasing a collection of vintage Patagonia clothing which dates back to the company’s founding. Great Pacific Iron Works, short sleeve rugby shirts, original “original” stand up shorts. These items will eventually be on sale to benefit our good friend, the late Paul Marsh. Stop by the Cameron Village shop for the party on Wednesday night.

>> More on the event

Governor’s Business Conservationist of the Year: Tom Valone

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Photo © Dr. David Blevins, all rights reserved

Research Triangle Park, NC – This past weekend the North Carolina Wildlife Federation presented the 48th Annual Governor’s Conservation Achievement Awards to 20 winners dedicated to conservation in North Carolina.

The following remarks accompanied the presentation of the Governor’s Business Conservationist of the Year award to Tom Valone, owner of Great Outdoor Provision Co.

“Walk the talk. That’s a phrase that means practicing what you preach, leading by example, and letting your actions spread your message. For two decades, the Great Outdoor Provision Co. has walked the talked when it comes to meaningful green business practices. In fact, the Great Outdoor Provision Company walks the talk, paddles the talk, climbs the talk, hikes the talk, fly-casts the talk, and camps the talk. With seven stores in North Carolina and a legacy of giving back, the Great Outdoor Provision Co. is for many many customers as much a beloved part of the state’s landscape as a mountain view or Piedmont waterfall. Under the leadership of local owners Tom and Becca Valone, the stores have celebrated Land Trust Day for 20 years, donating profits back to local land trusts. The company provides trail crew assistance every month for the Mountains-to-the-Sea trail, supports Boy Scouts and Girl Scout Programs, helped establish the N.C. State Parks Junior Ranger Program, and contributes to conservation groups from the Wildlife Federation to the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, another half-dozen local lands conservancies, the Audubon Society, Coastal Conservation Association, and more.

The Great Outdoor Provision Co. puts its money where the wild is, and where it can inspire North Carolinians to do the same. For that kind of leadership, it is the 2010 Governor’s Business Conservationist of the Year.”

Awards winners are nominated by the citizens of North Carolina and decided upon by a committee of scientists, environmental educators, and conservation activists. “This awards program brings together a remarkably diverse group of conservationists to highlight the `good news’ about wildlife conservation in North Carolina,” said Gestwicki, “Our primary focus is to applaud and honor these people who work so hard for wildlife and the air, water, land that they and all of us depend upon”.

Great Outdoor Provision Co. to host Banff Mountain Film’s Radical Reels

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Friday, September 9, 2011
Hanes Brand Theatre – Winston-Salem, NC

You don’t have to journey to Banff each fall to see these exciting films! Great Outdoor Provision Co. will host Banff Mountain Film’s Radical Reels – a special screening of the wildest high-adrenaline films entered in the Banff Mountain Film Festival. So many action films were being submitted to the film festival that they could not fit into the regular screenings, resulting in the creation of the hugely successful Radical Reels evening presentation.

The established Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour has been thrilling audiences since 1981. Most World Tour screenings include a range of different themes (adventure sports, environment, mountain culture, heritage, etc.) and styles (action-filled shorts; longer, more comprehensive films; amateur and professional productions; etc.). The Radical Reels Tour presentations incorporate all these elements, but the focus is on dynamic, high-adrenaline films featuring sports such as skiing, climbing, kayaking, BASE jumping, snowboarding and mountain biking. These activities continue to be included on the World Tour, but Radical Reels Tour is for audiences who prefer all action films.

The Radical Reels Film Tour visits approximately 19 states and provinces, reaching over 35 different locations. Most screenings take place in the September to October and February to May time periods.

NC Wildlife Federation awards Great Outdoor Provision Co. as BUSINESS CONSERVATIONIST of the YEAR

Friday, June 24th, 2011

RALEIGH, NC – June 23, 2011
The North Carolina Wildlife Federation honored Great Outdoor Provision Co. as the recipient of the 2010 Governor’s Conservation Achievement Award a recognition given annually to individuals, governmental bodies, organizations and others who have exhibited an unwavering commitment to conservation in North Carolina.

These are the highest natural resource honors given in the state. The Governor’s Award stated honored Great Outdoor Provision Co. as Business Conservationist of the Year and stated :

“From local land trusts to Boy Scout troops, from the Mountains-to-the-Sea Trail to local rescue mission, the Great Outdoor Provision Company gives back to North Carolina, embodying the best of local ownership, entrepreneurship, and investment in the lives of its customers. Founded in 1972, the company now has seven stores in seven North Carolina cities.”

More details about the distinguished award can be found at

The Rewards of Kayak Fishing

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

by Ashley “The Drumminator” Williams, GOPC Kayak Fishing Team

This weekend was the perfect example to take full advantage of all the benefits kayak fishing has when searching the saltwater flats for redfish. I planned my trip accordingly for tides and locations.

Where I chose to fish was the very popular (and what I consider my kayak fishing stomping ground) Fort Fisher. With a low tide estimated to be around 9:00am it would be the perfect chance to paddle out and start wetting lines at the peak fishing opportunity. I have eleven years of experience fishing and scouting the creeks in this area so I knew where I wanted to be. Fort Fisher is a gem of a fishing location and what makes it even better is the lack of boat traffic and their inability to access many areas, especially at low tide.

I pulled into the Federal Point boat ramp around 6:00 and began to unload my gear. The ramp has undergone renovations within the last year to which I’m split over. The ramp has been improved greatly but I’m still waiting on that promised kayak launch they’ve been talking about adding. Mion may have gone out of business in 2006 but I’m determined to keep these Current Sandals forever and do not like digging them out of mud flats.

There is a walkway that has been added this year so visitors can get down to the small “beach” section which I’d say around 50 yards wide. Traditionally this is where kayakers have launched from along with wind surfers who frequent the area. But as I said earlier, you’re prone to losing a shoe.

The wind was blowing from the south and predicted to build through the day so I decided to concentrate today’s efforts on spinning tackle. I tied up a few lures, courtesy of Marsh Works Inshore Tackle, before unloading a rigging my Hurricane Phoenix 130. While unloading my friend Jeff pulled into the ramp with his Wilderness Systems Commander 120. After talking a bit we discovered that we both had the same destination in mind and would paddle out together.

Today was an exceptional day for me. Fort Fisher is the water I taught myself to kayak in. Prior to that, my father brought me here to surf fish on the beach and wade fish in the marshes for redfish. In the interest of covering more ground behind the marshes my father helped me get a kayak for Christmas in 2009. That following fishing season was the start of an amazing career in kayak fishing which has opened many doors for me ever since. Not only do I recognize and appreciate those opportunities but even more so, I recognize and appreciate the friends which I’ve gained through the years. It’s not just the fishing that I enjoy, it’s knowing that around any creek bend I can bump into someone I know and share the day with.

It’s those friends who helped support me with phone calls, message, and visits when my father, at 55 years old, passed away after an eight month battle with cancer on October 22nd, 2010. I had been ready to give up the paddle and rod because the memories were too strong of our time on the water together. It took a phone call with a friend (and part owner of a competing business) to tell me I was stupid to quit and give it all up because my father wouldn’t want me to do that. So on Sunday, with a laugh and grin, I shoved off and began my first trip back. I think dad was pleased with the results.

Well Jeff and I squeezed into a creek and paddled our way back into it. This whole area is full of creeks which contain deep holes and channels. At low tide the redfish just seem to get stuck and hang out until the tide returns. From the kayak it’s easy to slide into this places and cherry pick them all afternoon while boats pass back and forth from a distance. Jeff started the day off with a couple of nice redfish almost immediately. At Jeff’s recommendation, I changed up lures and quickly picked up a couple myself. There were a lot of hits and misses as well from this area. After a while of no hits we moved on to explore a few other areas. We saw quite a few redfish moving along individually and no schools. Some were crashing bait against the grass and didn’t show any interest in our lures so we moved on.

Later on we went out separate ways as I was due back home soon. On my way out I came across a school at the mouth of the creek we first fished in. I quickly landed two more redfish and lost three. The last redfish was fortunate enough to return home with me and join my family at dinner that night. All in all it was a good day fishing. To pick out and area ahead of time, get there, and land four redfish from 21” to 26” is a good trip.

Paul Marsh — Friend & Patagonia Pioneer

Friday, April 8th, 2011

by Tom Valone, owner of Great Outdoor Provision Co.

I last saw Paul on his last sales swing thru our territory this past summer. He was bent over, limped, coughed and held onto door jambs as he worked the floor in a clinic. My younger son Sam was on the floor paying me back for a class he dropped at Alabama, and when he got home, he asked “Who is that guy Paul? He delivered a clinic on the Petzl stuff he sells, and then did one on Chaco, which he does not sell. And I learned more in 30 minutes about Chacos than I have all summer selling Chacos.” Of course, I could not cover Paul in some sort of sound bite, or a few paragraphs, so I suggested he grab a beer and I told him about Paul.

Paul and Denny Mays blasted into Chapel Hill late in the day back in ‘76, about two hours past our 3:00 p.m. appointment, which was fine because no other rep ever bothered to make appointments. And they repped for Chouinard Equipment and something called Patagonia, which I always thought of as a place to die on a big MF mountain.

“Where ya’ll been?” I asked.

“Drivin’, man,” said Denny.

“From where?” I asked.

“Oh, about 8 RBs west o’ here, I guess.” said Denny.

Well, eight road beers divided by two is about two hours, but Paul then spoke and noted that he had had only two RBs and that Denny had had six. That would make their last stop Charlotte. Denny had been working hard driving, so he headed two doors down to Clarence’s Bar for beers all around. He had to pass the massage parlor twice for the beer run, and I still cannot believe he did not stop. Great real estate is an asset I always say…

Paul looked around our store, all 800 square feet of it, and I checked him out. Biggest beard I ever saw, arms to make Popeye jealous, and eyes set a click too close together. Couldn’t see his mouth but his eyes said “serious, perhaps dangerous,” while his voice said “friendly.” Huh. When Denny came back from Clarence’s, he had a surplus duffel with him from which he poured Stoppers, Hexes, a few ‘biners, a Crag hammer and a Piolet onto some Clarks cord shorts, some rugby shirts ( I suggested he sell all of them in Charlottesville – Virginia colors after all), a pair of Standups, and a rust colored Guide sweater. While Denny drawled on about the features of the hardware, Paul quietly stood the Standups up on their hems, and repeatedly pushed his fist into the sweater to demonstrate how tightly woven it was; he really did look like he was setting me up to get whacked. Glances by those close-set eyes toward the Piolet let me know he had the tool to do it.

Too many Clarence’s beers and hot dogs sent us to my cinder block shotgun house where we strapped on Super Guides fixed with rigid crampons and climbed the ash tree out back. The fire department had to come get Paul out as “down climb” was not in his vocabulary. Although he was roped in and “protected” by slings looped around sturdy limbs, he maintained that we had become too drunk to provide a safe belay, which was probably true. The fire department got a kick out of the whole deal, and Paul gave each fireman a Chouinard ‘biner for their trouble – “nice key ring” Paul noted, already honing new markets.

Next day they left with more than enough order volume from me to pay for the gas back to Atlanta, most of it in Guide sweaters and Standups. And, I bought the Piolet that still hangs on my wall.

“Paul,” I told Sam, “forges a relationship with his customers and builds a personal bridge over which commerce can travel. Sometimes there is no commerce, but the relationship is there all the same for that time when real business is possible.”

“So did you and Paul start doing good business right away?” asked Sam.

“Nope, we both starved, but the relationship made the unsophisticated first efforts by Patagonia feel OK, and we then went to bat to sell what we bought. And Paul’s stories about how Standups were finished smooth in the crotch so one could wear them without underwear, or how YC’s Guide sweater had gotten him inextricably caught in an ocotillo bush while returning from the loo somewhere in the desert, or how the dye running out of the Patagonia Canvas shirt would eventually stop turning one’s neck yellow or green and then look like an old pair of jeans were usually the lubricant that made the sale.”

Vincent Stanley said he never heard Paul lie, but Paul’s favorite story was Pinocchio, and just about everything was fair game in a harmless sort of way.

And of course, Paul was always looking for ways to make his customers money. He passed on others’ successes and failures, he kept a look out for stuff that would make us a few easy bucks, and yes, he sold others’ lines like he did to Sam last summer, just to make the man and the shop better. I think Sam understood.

When I told him that Paul had passed, he was real quiet at the other end of the line. “You miss him already, don’t ya Pop?” he said.

And then he added, “I do too.” And Sam had only known Paul for 30 minutes!

Paul understood that we all were like kids who just had to drive our own bus, and while doing so, if we wanted to stick our feet out of the window, or sit on the seat back with our head out the sun roof while steering with our bare feet, then so be it. Paul now has that diesel Ford revved up, ya’ll know, the blue one with the mahogany interior trim, the 3.54 rear end, and 870 behind the seat, burning the minutes on the cell, spinning stories, leading others to discover what they need, and enjoying every minute. On the road again, out of our sight, but coming into view of others as surely as he is faded from ours. Godspeed.

To read more about Marsh, a true industry legend, spend some time on the Patagonia blog post “Paul Marsh 1945-2011, Pioneer Patagonia Sales Rep”.

Leave No Trace 2.0

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

Get in. Get out. Leave behind nothing but…nothing. That’s the philosophy behind LNT—Leave No Trace—backcountry travel. No one wants to bust their chops to get to the back of beyond only to find half-burned candy bar wrappers and whacked off tree branches. Even at popular campsites it’s just as easy to minimize your impact as it is to trash the woods.

But in its original version, LNT was a downer, a bunch of DON’Ts that read like a middle school principal spelling out the rules for the big spring dance. When it comes to camping, though, we’ve all come a long ways from trenching tools and latrines made of lashed poles. Sure, there’s stuff that still ranks a big NOT. Leaving toilet paper on the ground. Cutting standing trees. But we’ve re-tooled a 21st-century version of LNT into a big list of proactive, positive-outcome-calibrated DOs. Now you can be the change. Leave No Trace. Here’s how to vanish from the wilds:

GET IN. Most North Carolina campers can choose from existing campsites, even in fairly remote areas. Better to bed down on a beaten-down tent pad than wreck an undisturbed site—you can always set up the camp kitchen at a scenic vista nearby. Stick to existing fire circles in heavily used areas. If you go off-rail, remember that good campsites are found, not made. Look for a spot just large enough for the tent. The standard LNT mantra is to forgo the fire, but if you go with the burn, prepare a fire site by shovelling out a layer of soil and surface plants and setting aside. Learn to use a map and compass or a GPS. Flagging tape is so yesteryear.

GET OUT. Before you break camp, burn all wood completely. Kids love this job, so give ‘em a stick and make sure they push every little stub into the fire. Saturate the ashes, then scatter them. If you scraped out a fire pit, replace the sod, and toss leaves and twigs over the spot. Scour the camp for tiny bits of micro-trash. This is another great job for kids—offer an ice-cream-cone reward for whoever can find the most micro-trash, stuff like snippets of foil and paper, egg shell fragments, and sippy-cup straw wrappers. Remove all cordage from trees, even if you didn’t place it there. Naturalize the site before you leave. Rake matted grasses and leaves with a branch. Bring in rocks and sticks to hide your tent site. And the same rule applies no matter how near or far to civilization you camp: Pack it in, pack it out. Yes, that means banana peels, apple cores, egg shells, and cigar butts. If it wasn’t there when Columbus landed—or was it Erik the Red?—remove it.

Camp just below ridge tops to keep your tent from being so visible by others—you’ll still have a killer view. Burn smaller sticks and burn all wood completely to avoid leaving burned stubs behind. Use a tent with a tub-style floor; you’ll never dig a drainage trench again.

Always build fires below the high tide line. Camp away from the toe of sand dunes. When fishing with live or cut bait, toss shrimp shells and leftover fish in zippered plastic bags and pack out; raccoons and foxes are attracted to such trash, and then prey on sea turtles. Leave any eggs you find on the sand alone; beach-nesting birds rarely build nests.

Carry dirty dish-cleaning water away from the stream and campsite; the next camper doesn’t want to filter water soiled with your leftover spaghetti noodles. Scatter ashes into a strong current and camouflage the fire site with sand.

It’s no surprise that Great Outdoor Provision Co. keeps stock on what it takes to get you into the woods. But we also carry what you need to get out of wilds without giving Mother Nature a bad hair day. Check out these easy-on-the-land ideas the next time you’re headed outside.

P-cord and S-biners
Once upon a time, hanging a lantern or pot-holder was as simple as driving a nail into a tree. What were we thinking? String a length of parachute cord around a tree trunk and slip on a few S-biners to hold whatever needs holding.

Cooking stoves
Instead of a fire, cook on one of our high-performance cookstoves. Our stores stock stoves from the one-person MSR Pocket Rocket (don’t forget to pack out the gas canisters!) to the Primus Atle double burner, almost big enough to handle Kate, her 8 kids, and a couple of “Survivor” rejects.

Gourmet freeze-dried foods
This ain’t your daddy’s stroganoff. Kung Pao Chicken. Pad Thai. Check out our aisle of backcountry grub and you’ll find stuff good enough to serve at your next indoor supper club. (MULEteam members SAVE 10% on foods)

Therm-a-rest Trekker Chair
You could drag a fallen tree down the creek bank for a makeshift camp chair. Or you could not.

And here are three items that will you help you forget that you never started a campfire:

  • Stare at the stars instead of a fire with the Miller Planisphere. Dial up the direction you’re looking, and the mysteries of the heavens reveal themselves.
  • Load up on some of our many camp-friendly games such as locally made PHD Discs and the Ogo Sport Games.
  • Bunk in a North Face Dolomite or a Mountain Hardwear Flip, cushioned with a Therm-a-rest sleeping pad. These rectangular sleeping bags can be doubled up for a bag built for two. Make your own fire.
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