The Trail Head was started in 1974 as a visionary partnership between two buddies. The original business model was to sell and service the expanding backpacking and camping market that came out of the environmental movement of the early 1970’s. The business operated out of a leased space at 501 South Higgins. After 4 years the partnership dissolved, as many do and one partner bought out the other with the price being paid over 9 years.
The business continued through the late 70’s and 80″s with the single owner and saw steady growth. Expansion into boating equipment (Rafts, Canoes and Kayaks) and a larger more complete selection of clothing helped the business offer more to the outdoor enthusiast that did not want to buy a sleeping bag from a gun salesman.
In September 1990 the Trail Head Moved into a renovated auto parts store on North Higgins (Higgins and Pine) the new space was purchased and allowed for more sales square footage.
In May of 2000 Todd Frank purchased the business in a somewhat adversarial transaction, as an ex employee who left after being manager for 4 years, then came back and purchased the business a year later. Under new ownership the business grew, even throughout increased competition and more challenging economic picture. In August of 2004 The Trail Head relocated to a 100+ year old historic warehouse building after an extensive complete remodel. The current location at 221 East Front Street is now near the center of new development in downtown. We will have a new 4 story Parking structure next door, and are just steps away from the river front trail and access to The Clark Fork River and Brennan’s Wave a whitewater play wave built in 2006.
Manufactures Like Patagonia, Black Diamond Equipment, Northwest River Supplies and Icebreaker clothing as well as literally 100’s of other that have come and gone played a key role our growth as products evolved and got better each season. While the brands have come and gone our commitment to having the best quality products is what motivates us every day. We watched many brands grow, only to leave us in the wake and just a few short years later end up on the shelves of the bastions of outdoor business like Wal-mart and Costco. Ask us some day about our archive of dead brands posters and signs.
The future for the store is anybodies Crystal Ball. Changes to the landscape of retail have decreased the value customers place on having a local gear shop, information is available thousands of ways. We hope our customers continue to see value in what we do because we do not want to be just another internet site, we actually like to see our customers face to face. Our staff is dedicated to creating a trusting retail market and we are here every day, well when we are not out pursing our passion to be outside.
Thanks for your interest in who we are.
The Trail Head’s mission is to create a retail environment based on trust, and to enhance the opportunity for the community and the Trail Head team to pursue our passion for the outdoors. We strive to provide superior outdoor equipment, clothing, informational resources, and customer service in our region.
- The Trail Head recognizes that every action taken or not taken by staff effects each individual and the health of the whole team.
- The Trail Head dedicates itself to superior customer service by establishing trust, creating the desire for customers to continue to patronize the Trail Head.
- It is important to the Trail Head to be seen as a respected and ethical business participant in our region by committing to donating resources and staff time to issues of importance to the Trail Head and the community