Black Diamond Equipment has finally opened its doors in Jackson Hole after working through lengthy town permitting and construction processes.
“It’s good to see it finally come together,” said a customer who stopped in over the rainy Memorial Day weekend.
The store — which has been wrapped for the past year with posters of athletes boot packing and trail running — shares space with Bank of the West, immediately across the street from the downtown post office and Pearl Street Bagels.
While staff won’t be serving bagels, they do have free brews, courtesy of a Keurig machine in the the shop’s coffee nook.
Store manager Vinton “Vinny” Gwinn said that’s an attempt to make the store more homey. And for a brief stint, shop dog Honey called it home, greeting customers with licks and lounging by the climbing wall.
The 4,500-square-foot shop is one of Black Diamond’s largest retail locations in the U.S., second only to its new store in Burlington, Vermont.
In the winter, Gwinn said, he will set up an entire ice climbing section. Skis are stocked year-round. Gwinn is also doing his best to stock the shop with experienced outdoors enthusiasts who know the Tetons and the kinds of adventures customers are looking to try.
Brooks Ordway signed on for the summer before he slides back to Jackson Mountain Resort as a liftie. Jake Calhoun, a Lander native and experienced sport climber, is the store’s associate store manager. Jackson native and freeride skier Erica Bowditch works the front desk.
“It’s nice to have a local presence,” said Gwinn, who was born in Pocatello, Idaho, and said his family split time between there and Teton Valley. Gwinn has a background in accounting but also a passion for adventure. (He skied the east face of Teewinot this winter and he’s hoping to run his first 50K later this year.)
Black Diamond was originally slated to open its Jackson doors before REI, which opened its first Wyoming store in November. Construction delays pushed back that opening date to May. Some buildouts, like a water hookup for the Keurig, are still underway and a proper “grand opening” is being planned for later this summer, Gwinn said, after Jackson Hole Airport reopens.
Rather than running brick and mortar operations, Black Diamond has primarily served as an online concessionaire and as a supplier for larger retail operations like REI. But the Jackson Hole opening, the company’s ninth store in the U.S., is an effort to change that strategy.
In the age of online retail having a physical location is as much about visibility as it is about making money, Devin Gillette, Black Diamond’s director of retail told the News&Guide in October.
“People can come, have coffee, meet people, ask questions and hang out,” Gillette said. “They can find out about the snowpack, discuss the forecast or ask about the best places to hike and climb.”
Black Diamond also honors pro deals in store.
Other outfitters in Jackson said they weren’t concerned about the competition for customers, but rather for staff.
“We already have very serious staffing concerns,” Skinny Skis co-owner Scott O’Brien said. “This is stressing out all the businesses that have been in Jackson for years.” “It’s not so much that it’s another outdoors store, it’s just another store.”
O’Brien also wondered about Black Diamond’s commitment to community.
Gwinn said the company is planning to sponsor this year’s Town Pump climbing competition series. They also hope to sponsor local athletes, he said. All donations from the Black Diamond coffee operation will go to the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center.
Over at Teton Mountaineering, floor manager Charlie Jones said the “explosion of recreation” during the pandemic was a boon to every outfitter, but he was still worried about Black Diamond’s potential effect.
“There was already a worker shortage, and now we feel it way more because of new businesses opening up,” he said.
“We’ll have to see over time what impact it has.”