When you're looking to hit the trails but escape the heat and/or avoid the plethora of novices oblivious to basic hiking etiquette we covered earlier this week, chances are good that a camping getaway is on your calendar. If you're putting off your next tent-pitching endeavor due to an aversion to seeing (and paying) the register total after loading up on the necessary equipment, consider checking out Phoenix's Sunday Cycles Bike Shop.
This past month the shop started selling camping, backpacking, and hiking gear. Having a locally-based alternative to the big box retailers is pretty cool, but Sunday Cycles ups the indie ante by buying people's lightly used gear on consignment.
"The whole premise behind it was going to the big box outdoor retailers and seeing how much they charge, and in what seemed like a lot of cases, what they overcharge," says Joe Berman, owner and self-described "chief toilet scrubber" of Sunday Cycles Bike Shop.
He says that he thinks there's a huge void in Phoenix when it comes to outdoor gear options, and adds that with only a few places selling it there isn't much of a deal to be had.
"It's a great deal for somebody to go buy something that might have cost them $100 at the big box place, that's in great condition and sold for 20 to 30 percent less," says Berman. "Instead of having to buy crummy equipment at full retail, they can get nice, brand new equipment for just a little bit more than they would have the lower-quality stuff."
Berman says that he decided against going the route of being inventory poor by carrying everything in stock, and instead has a huge catalog and can get people a more competitive price if they're willing to wait a few days for what they need.
"Everybody [at the shop] has a passion for camping, hiking, rafting, climbing, biking," he says, calling the change a natural progression.
Berman says the goal is to have a range of entry-level, family-friendly gear up to the higher-end and lighter gear for more experienced people, who will spend a little bit more time in the woods.
There seems to be an awareness of the need for more affordable outdoor and sports equipment, as Bookmans, the local used bookstore, has branched out with its Bookmans Sports Exchange. The new sports-centered shop buys and sells all sports-related equipment, including bicycles and fitness gear.
For now, the sole Bookmans' sport shop location is in Tucson, so fans will have to wait and see if one lands in Phoenix.
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"It's been exciting to see people latch on to something new," Berman says. "Even though it's hot I think it's going to catch on more and more, as it gets cooler. But it's neat to see the customers that we only knew one side of as cyclists, also do these incredible things that we didn't get to find out about until we started carrying this camping gear."