Get Outside –


Exercise smarter with these Virginia outfitters.

With spring comes the familiar itch to get outside, hike trails or paddle a kayak. And outdoor outfitters can outfit you with the right gear.

If getting out on the water is on your to-do list, discover the world of kayaks, canoes and paddleboards at Appomattox River Company in Farmville. The store carries one of the most comprehensive inventories in the state, with gear for customers of all skill levels. It’s a one-stop shop with clothes and accessories. You can even find a life jacket for your dog.

In Fredericksburg, River Rock Outfitter offers popular clothing brands such as Kuhl, Patagonia, Mountain Khakis and Prana, as well as backpacks from Osprey, climbing gear from Black Diamond and Big Agnes tents and sleeping bags.

New is the River Rock Restart Consignment Program. This has been a lifesaver – for the store and its customers – during recent supply chain challenges. If you’re willing to replace lightly worn camping tents, backpacks, hiking boots, and clothing, you can declutter while earning money to spend on upgrading your gear.

Ragged Mountain Race Shop in Charlottesville in 1982, running was king, their main customers were young men in their twenties, and running shoes cost $30 a pair. Walking for fitness was still in the closet, the Cinderella of the not-quite-nascent health and wellness movement.

“It’s been an incredible evolution,” says Mark, who notes that since walking has become a bona fide sport with tangible health benefits, half of Ragged Mountain’s clients are walkers. Most are in their 50s and half are women. “During the pandemic, people really seemed to make the connection between getting outside and improving their mental health,” he adds. Whether it’s a leisurely walk in the park or a vigorous run, being in nature can be beneficial.

The shoes now cost between $120 and $160 a pair. Familiar brands include Brooks, Asics and Saucony, and new neighborhood kids like Altra, Hoka, On and Topo. The store has changed its name to reflect changing demographics: it is now Ragged Mountain Running & Walking Shop. The corporate culture discourages customers from saying “I’m just a walker”.

Mark recalls a piece of advice his father once gave him: “Treat people like you want them back.” Sticking to this guiding principle, which pervades Ragged Mountain’s customer-centric vibe, has worked. By inspiring intense customer loyalty, several generations of families have become loyal patrons.,,


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