Sam Valone has been in the outdoor industry just about as long as he can remember.

His father, the founder of Great Outdoor Provision Co., a retailer in North Carolina and Virginia, used to enlist a young Valone to help unload pallets of backpacks, tents and clothing after school.

When he first moved to Montana five years ago, Valone took a job working at The Base Camp, a popular outdoor retailer in Helena.

And now, the North Carolina native has a store of his own. On Sept. 7, Valone opened the doors of Crazy Mountain Outdoor Co. in the old Montana Expressions space across from Perkins on West Main Street in Bozeman.

“It’s always been something I’ve wanted to do, and I said, ‘I don’t think there’s a better time,’” Valone said.

The 4,300-square-foot space carries a variety of outdoor gear, from Glenn Brackett’s handmade bamboo Sweetgrass Rods to Nemo tents to Salt Lake City-based Cotopaxi backpacks — a mix of stuff that Valone says falls primarily into “wilderness, access and backpacking.”

While the large box store retailers do a good job appealing to certain customers, there was room in the local market for a smaller independent outdoor retailer, the owner added.

Crazy Mountain has no climbing gear, skis or snowboards, with Valone opting to fill much of the store with soft goods, camping paraphernalia and hiking accessories. The walls of the shop display pieces of nature-themed artwork by local artists, which are also for sale.

“The whole thing is selling fun,” Valone said. “What we’re doing is helping people get into the outdoors.”

Valone and his seven-member team are all outdoor enthusiasts, and the owner makes a particular point to sell gear that he or other employees have used themselves.

“If I’m not passionate about it, it’s hard to get behind,” he said.

And it’s difficult to find much outdoor-wise that Valone isn’t passionate about. An avid fly fisherman, the University of Alabama alum also loves to hike and backpack and moved to Bozeman, in large part, because of the access.

“Anytime I can not have a roof over my head is a good thing,” he said.

Even for Montana, Valone said, “Bozeman has a lot of stuff that’s unique to it,” which made it the perfect place to open the shop.

“It’s one of those things where we will evolve as we go, but it’s been fun and that was the whole reason for doing it,” he said. “This is where I want to be; this is what I want to do.”

Kendall can be reached at Kendall is on Twitter at @lewdak


Lewis Kendall covers business and the economy for the Chronicle.

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