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NikiY

Ascent Outdoors and Ascent Cycles closed suddenly

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I guess I waited too long to use my store credit.  :pagetop:

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This is pretty upsetting to read. I had been going to that shop for a long time, remember seeing Backes do a presentation there, they long sponsored a local cycling team, and also advertised on this site for a long time. When I started getting into the outdoors in 1992 there were tons of stores in the Seattle area, especially on the Eastside where I grew up. This is really terrible. I will say I'm surprised to read they had a store in Redmond; I had no idea. I would also say that the changes in Seattle have likely not been kind to having a business in Ballard. Ballard has always been hard to get to, but with increasing traffic, a vast number of good bars and restaurants there taking up even more parking in a situation that already sucked, I suspect didn't help.

I do think there is a unmistakable reality in that companies like Backcountry and REI are just crushing the competition. These companies are very sophisticated in their operations, they are very data driven, and have extraordinary reach. REIs made a very strategic play in acquiring Mountain Project and their related sites. 

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I bought a lightly used pair of Birkenstocks at Second Bounce when it was in Fremont, sometime in the late 90's.  They were $25, and I'm still using them (with new soles).  I also bought a pair of barely used Scarpa SLs for $40 before I went on our first Nepal trip, and used them for many hundreds of miles (thousands?) over the past 15 years (again with a new sole courtesy of Dave Page).  I guess this mostly means I should have spent more money there over the years!   :lmao:

So many good memories in that store ( @wbk @runningdogWaddington presentation, etc.!), and agree that the Seattle area is much worse off for their closure.

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Posted (edited)

This is not the Second Ascent (Second Bounce) we all knew and loved.  The original owner sold out and it became a sterile shop with no soul.  Gone were Ed Viesture's Polo down suit from his solo Everest attempt, Greg Child's tent form G-IV, the fantastic collection of classic Chouinard ice tools, and all the used clothing/gear.  The original shop employed hard core climbers like Hannah (Pandora), Chris Simmons, Keith Mark Johnson, Ian Nicholson, and many others with tons of PK.  Selling the store was a loss.  The loss of the new shop is no loss to the community. 

 

Edited by DPS

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34 minutes ago, DPS said:

This is not the Second Ascent (Second Bounce) we all knew and loved. 

Oh?  I guess when I moved north years ago I lost touch.  When did that sale happen?

Great name dropping... more memories.  Ian fitted my first pair of Intuition liners at the shop back around 2005.  I spent a memorable evening chatting with Keith at the base of Prusik in 2000....

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1 hour ago, JasonG said:

I bought a lightly used pair of Birkenstocks

you filthy hippy

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Posted (edited)

Whether it was sterile with no soul or not, Hannah-Pandora was still working there as of a few months ago at least, and the other salespeople I engaged with there in the past few years clearly got out and knew their stuff, as opposed to the salesperson at REI who didn't know what I was talking about when I asked about accessory cord. 

I'm sad to see a shop that actually stocked gear instead of just clothing disappear.  One recent example: unlike REI or Feathered Friends, Ascent actually had BD ice picks in stock in March, so my husband was able to buy them here instead of ordering them online.  I suppose having historical equipment decorating the shop was nice, but what I like about Ascent was that if I needed gear, I could actually generally *find* it there, which has certainly not been true of REI for a long time.  And while I too was bummed that the secondhand stuff disappeared, I don't see how anyone could make rent selling secondhand stuff on Ballard Ave—at least not to cheapo dirtbag climbers instead of hipsters willing to pay a premium for "vintage" tchotkes.

Edited by tanstaafl
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1 minute ago, olyclimber said:

you filthy hippy

:moondance:  Hey, it was the 90's, man.

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3 minutes ago, tanstaafl said:

my husband 

Can't believe you tamed that wild beast! You clearly have super powers.

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Retail in this day and age is a brutal place, especially with a brick and mortar in Seattle.  There are some shops and restaurants I assume must be either a tax write off for some rich person or a front for illegal drug sales, because I have no idea how they make enough money to pay the rent.

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Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue, RIP, was owned by a fellow who is old timber money.  My brother's wife's sister's husband's brother worked there for many years (Dave May).  I stopped by during their going out of business sale to say good bye to Dave and a few friends who worked there.  He told me that retail stores were dying because manufacturers did not want to sell through them, but would rather sell online and through their own brick and motor stores.  Not sure if that is entirely retail is dying, but within a few block radius of where I work there are Patagonia, Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, and North Face stores. 

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14 minutes ago, olyclimber said:

Can't believe you tamed that wild beast! You clearly have super powers.

Taming?  hahahaha.  Rather, I think our mutual affection for the phrase "do whatever you want -- you will anyway" is the key to making our household run smoothly.

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I heard there was already a liquor license application in the window there at Second Ascent as of this past Sunday.  

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4 minutes ago, DPS said:

Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue, RIP, was owned by a fellow who is old timber money.  My brother's wife's sister's husband's brother worked there for many years (Dave May).  I stopped by during their going out of business sale to say good bye to Dave and a few friends who worked there.  He told me that retail stores were dying because manufacturers did not want to sell through them, but would rather sell online and through their own brick and motor stores.  Not sure if that is entirely retail is dying, but within a few block radius of where I work there are Patagonia, Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, and North Face stores. 

RIP indeed. I still miss them.  Also Swallows Nest.

The thing about all the stores you mention -- they're predominantly clothing, which is where I understand the profits are.  And very popular with people who never leave pavement. 

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6 minutes ago, DPS said:

Marmot Mountain Works in Bellevue, RIP, was owned by a fellow who is old timber money.  My brother's wife's sister's husband's brother worked there for many years (Dave May).  I stopped by during their going out of business sale to say good bye to Dave and a few friends who worked there.  He told me that retail stores were dying because manufacturers did not want to sell through them, but would rather sell online and through their own brick and motor stores.  Not sure if that is entirely retail is dying, but within a few block radius of where I work there are Patagonia, Arc'Teryx, Mountain Hardwear, and North Face stores. 

Yeah I'm just talking about mom and pop type shops. Obviously REI isn't going anywhere, nor the manufacturers.   The key is either you have low overhead (low rent), or you have huge bags of money to open a flagship store in the downtown, bankrolled by $800 jackets which cost $50 to make.  I guess.

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I visited Seattle in 2013 to climb Rainier with a friend. During the climb my friend's face got pretty sunburnt and he ended up with some serious racoon-face. When we got back to Seattle we stopped in at Second Ascent and the guy behind the counter also had a pretty serious goggle tan. They made eye contact and silently nodded at each other.

Since then I have moved to Seattle and spent an obscene amount of money at Second Ascent. I'll really miss having a gear shop just a short bike ride away staffed by people who really live climbing and skiing.

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15 minutes ago, tanstaafl said:

RIP indeed. I still miss them.  Also Swallows Nest.

The thing about all the stores you mention -- they're predominantly clothing, which is where I understand the profits are.  And very popular with people who never leave pavement. 

Swallow's Nest. Yes, now I'm feeling long in the tooth.  I remember going into their Sixth Ave store, but I was poor and couldn't afford anything in the store.

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1 minute ago, olyclimber said:

I remember going into their Sixth Ave store, but I was poor and couldn't afford anything in the store.

I bought my first pack there in the mid 90's, a bulletproof Osprey that has been all over the world with me (it was a major expenditure for me in those days).  I still have it, but mostly it gets lent out these days since it weighs about 8 lbs.  Most recently it went on a month long NOLS trip to AK with a friend's son.

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I work next to the Amazon Domes, and I see these tech kids wearing top of the line Arc'Teryx and Patagonia belay jackets to ride the bus.  I  admit, I own some pretty nice belay jackets but I would never wear them to work - they skink from climbing in them.

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1 hour ago, DPS said:

but I would never wear them to work

I think it's a generational cheap bastard thing.  It's funny, I have all sorts of gear that only lives in the mountains and my basement.  I feel funny wearing it in the lowlands, mainly because I'm so cheap I want to prolong the life as long as possible.  When it gets totally patched and ratty like my '98 Marmot puffy, I stop taking it to the mountains and go get beer money at the nearest off-ramp.

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Posted (edited)

I totally wear my DAS parka to work when it's really cold; I get colder standing around for an hour-plus waiting for a bus in Seattle's periodic snow events while dressed in office wear than I ever have ice climbing.

And I used to wear my outdoor jackets to work all the time -- from my late 20s until my mid 40s, I didn't own any jackets that weren't outdoor jackets.  Finally around age 43 I bought a nice wool peacoat and I felt so adult.

Spotted in the elevator at one union square a few months ago:  woman in stiletto heels, hose, pencil skirt, nice silk blouse, and a ratty old fleece jacket.  Now that's Seattle.

Edited by tanstaafl

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8 hours ago, DPS said:

He told me that retail stores were dying because manufacturers did not want to sell through them, but would rather sell online and through their own brick and motor stores. 

Marmot was a sad deal. I used to go there almost weekly when I was in high school to drool over gear. I think what happened there was complicated. Sometimes owners of businesses or slow to adapt and accept how things are changing. In talking with one employee there the owner apparently didn't want to spend money on advertising. I also think the reality is the location became terrible to get to. The parking was horrible and the traffic was worse. What they really needed to do was move, and I suspect that is part of the problem with SA. 

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16 hours ago, jon said:

Marmot was a sad deal. I used to go there almost weekly when I was in high school to drool over gear. I think what happened there was complicated. Sometimes owners of businesses or slow to adapt and accept how things are changing. In talking with one employee there the owner apparently didn't want to spend money on advertising. I also think the reality is the location became terrible to get to. The parking was horrible and the traffic was worse. What they really needed to do was move, and I suspect that is part of the problem with SA. 

I don't think any of that had to anything to do with Marmot closing.  Lock was dead within a year of closing of cancer.

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