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More space means new possibilities for Independence Run & Hike

Locations: News Published

Brion After, longtime owner of Independence Run & Hike (IRH), breathed a small sigh of relief while looking around his store’s new location the night before reopening on May 5.

“We’re in and it feels so good,” After said. “I’ve put a lot of time, energy and money into it, and it’s so nice to see it come out looking so good.”

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Located at 901 Highway 133 next to City Market, After said this is the first time he had a clean slate to customize Carbondale’s premiere outdoor adventure shop. “All the other spaces I [previously] went into were business offices that I put a running store into. I worked with the space as it was.” 

He continued, “I helped the design team pick out flooring, lighting, pictures, outlets, every little detail. It’s exhausting, but it’s been great.” The empty space came with steel studs and concrete floors.

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Tastefully designed with a high, industrial-style ceiling, an exposed-brick accent wall, stunning local landmark photographs by Basalt-based creative Draper White, natural lighting and nearly double the space, IRH’s new location offers a fresh and inspiring shopping experience for customers to comfortably browse high-quality footwear and outdoor gear.

“Carbondale has gone from this small town, when I opened in 2006, to a town that is growing,” After said. “People are coming in who are looking for more stuff, and I want to be the store that people come to for their fun outdoor activities.”

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Despite ongoing disruptions in the global supply chain, After said the new store will carry more outdoor brands, stand-up paddleboards, sleeping bags, camping stoves, tents and more casual and outdoor clothing. The popular footwear section will also expand with the addition of new running, hiking and casual footwear brands. 

Taking a moment to pause while reflecting upon this growth, After smiled as he emphasized that running will remain the heart and soul of IRH. “We’re a little bit different because we have a run-focus, and that’s one of the things we’re really known for. We still hire a lot of runners — I’m still a runner — and the running part is core to my whole life.”

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At IRH, footwear tops the podium for customers because of After’s five-step fitting process. Through a series of simple exercises and questions pertaining to the customer’s athletic goals, lifestyle and historical injuries, trained staff members narrow down the shoe-wall to find a perfect fit. The shoes are then tested on the treadmill while staff members video-record and analyze the customer’s gait and compatibility with the shoes. 

According to After, this time-tested process ensures that customers can confidently tackle their next adventure and beyond. Recognizing that sometimes shoes can feel different on the trail, customers have a 30-day fit guarantee; if the shoe does not work, bring it back and the staff will find a better option.

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While the knowledgeable staff and extensive gear selection is a major draw for customers, the community-centric atmosphere is what keeps them around. IRH manager, Kyle Jones, said that a key aspect of his role is to create a welcoming shop “where everybody knows your name — kind of like Cheers,” he laughed.

“I want to still know every customer’s name that walks in the door,” Jones continued. “Not only is it good customer service, but it creates that hometown feel. That’s what I like when I walk into a store, and it’s super important for us to maintain that.”

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Even though the dust is still settling at the shop, After and Jones are excited about hosting future gatherings. “Ultimately we want to do more events,” After said. “We want to continue expanding our running group, maybe have a backpack fitting night, or yoga in the store, or more running and hiking groups. That is definitely in the plans.”

Jones added that he would like to see the shop host more races in addition to the Sopris Run-Off and Jingle Bell Run. He also expressed interest in monthly get-togethers featuring experts in the industry, such as “a podiatrist who comes and talks to us about insoles.”

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With the shop’s transition at the forefront, After said that many of these events will happen once the store feels a bit more settled.

To help lighten the load, he hopes to hire another person to join his staff of outdoor enthusiasts. “We think there’s going to be a lot more people just meandering in with this location,” After said. “We’re definitely hiring, but as we all know, housing and hiring people is very challenging right now.”

The shop buzzes with excitement and possibilities, and After is incredibly appreciative of the community’s support and his staff’s hard work over the last several months. “I think moves like this bring people together,” he said, “and I think it’s a really great thing for the store and our community.”

Be on the lookout for the shop’s grand opening event in early June. Ready to join the team? Stop by to fill out an application, or call 970-704-0909.

Tags: #Brion After #business #Independence Run & Hike #retail #running
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