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.
Archive for the 'Company Culture' Category
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”.
Friday, September 9
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.
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 http://www.ncwf.org/awards/
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.
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”.
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.
IN THE MOUNTAINS:
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.
AT THE COAST:
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.
ON THE WATER:
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.
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.
GOPC Owner Tom Valone recalls the early days
Circa 1975. GOPC founder Tom Valone in his Chuck Taylors at the Haw Rivers steel bridge take out.
Notes on the back of this photo indicate that it was mid June, and that the river was running about 21/2 ft on the old US 64 Gauge, which meant that there were a few class 4’s and lots of 2’s and 3’s. The boats are nylon/glass Phoenix Cascades, the paddles are Kobers, the cartoppers are Quick N Easy’s, life vests are Seda, the helmets are hockey helmets that make one look like he has an outsized frontal lobe, and the old river car is a ’59 “219” with about 220,000 miles on it. Note the high tech tee shirt stretched over the massive chest, the forever-to-dry cut-off shorts and Chuck Taylor river shoes.
This thing called “kayaking” was developing in all sorts of ways, with guys like Walt Blackadar and Royal Robbins pushing “first descents” out west, while the rest of us just kind of ran rivers. Point A to B was about as complicated as it got, at least here in NC. We had yet to get bored and start putting our boat noses in places that might prudently be avoided. This trip was different, the beginning of playing in individual rapids and holes to probe our limits and those of the boats.
The Haw was an interesting run. The water at 21/2’ was a mix of Triassic red mud and USDA red dye from the Cone Mills polyester plant upstream, guaranteeing that this clean guy photo was taken at the beginning of the shuttle, not after the take out. And, the boats have no holes visible, and I know for a fact that there were holes in the Cascades after the trip. There was even 6” of bow missing from my boat, chomped off by a demonic ledge under which I put the nose trying to get air in a maneuver called an “ender.”
If memory serves, since we did only a bit of surfing and playing at the bottom of Gabriel’s Bend, at Smooth Ledge and Finders Keepers (too much boat damage, wet exits and long swims!) the real challenge was avoiding the 100’ poison ivy vines bouncing in the current and copper mouthed rattle moccasins sunning themselves on low limbs and on exposed rocks. That and keeping clear of likkered up BUBBAS (North Carolina acronym for “Boys unburdened by BMW’s, Briefcases and Ambition”) some of whom were body surfing the bigger holes and others pissed off at recent college grads oogling their nekkid womenfolk. Seems like there was also some rusty re-bar and a few old cars in the river as well, but that could be an exaggeration. I really hate to exaggerate.
Joe and I did get to yelling “hey y’all, watch this” as we dropped into holes or punched thru high standing waves, or knocked serpents out of trees and into the water. We got real tickled by that, but some of the Bubbas thought we were making fun of them and ended up chasing us and throwing rocks and half empty beer cans at us as we turboed away.
At the take out we surveyed the smashed boats and made a corporate decision to buy the minimum order of 6 Hollowform kayaks roto-moulded out of cross linked polyethelene from a company in California; one for each of us and 4 for sale. These only came in yellow, weighed about 65#, and the brilliant design elements moulded into the hull relaxed out in our southern sun. They were a bit hard to paddle, but because ya couldn’t break them, the rivers were soon “yellow with boats.”
Whitewater paddling and play boats have come a long way since ’75, with the best designs being made here in the southeast. They come in lots of colors, and there is a design for just about any paddling niche one can imagine. The lower Haw, including all the great rapids and holes are now under Jordan Lake, but the big oak tree in the background of the photo is still there shading folks fishing for catfish. And, on weekends in the summer, one can still hear “hey y’all, watch this.”
Tar Heel of the Week: Outdoors offers him way to give back
Read the News & Observer article here: