The Ashland Outdoor Store

State Of The Union, Ashland Outdoor Store Style, September 7, 2018

or... "Times May Change, But Core Values Should Not"

The Ashland Outdoor Store has been around a long time. Everyone reading this, and the store too, has come a long way since then. The world has changed, our politics have changed, the retail landscape has changed, new alliances have formed in Europe, China is an economic juggernaut and almost everything we sell is made in or has parts or materials that come from China, Mexico, Vietnam or India - among others!

But one important thing has not changed - our Core Values. I am writing this because I believe we have a unique and powerful community of people who love the outdoors for many reasons. We don't have to share the exact same reasons in order to want the same things around us - namely an open and accessible outdoor backyard that we can enjoy. The Ashland Outdoor Store, by definition, has to support the preservation of our natural resources for the sole purpose of recreation and the health of our community. We also have a mandate to support our customers with experiential knowledge that they really can't get anywhere else. The big question in our minds as stakeholders in our community is how do we do that while weathering the onslaughts of mega-web-businesses, unseemly warm winters, and seemingly-apocalyptic smokey summers?

The answer has always been at the center of our core values and remains for us: Experience and the sharing of that experience in context with each community member based on their personal needs. To us, that is the prize inside The Ashland Outdoor Store - our joy at sharing our past experiences in order to help you enjoy your future experiences. When you come into our store you are treated like family and we share our secret spots and great experiential tips.

OK. That's all good and swell, right? But every one says what they think they do, or says they are great. But who is really great at doing what they say? The answer for me is, "I am not sure. But we are going to try to be great every day, hopefully keep getting better, and get there some day even if we make mistakes."

If you have read this far you may be asking, "Where is Steve going with this?" Well, I am going onto the web - really! We have asked ourselves, what is still missing from the internet? It turns out what is missing on the web is the exact same thing that we do in the store every day - Experiences. We have decided that product reviews suck, and can be stacked in someone's or some thing's favor with a few bucks and a concerted effort from posts by underpaid workers from all over the world. Did I mention that product reviews suck? Guess how many times someone has come into the store in the last 24 years and 3 months and asked, "Exactly how many starts between one and five would you give this product?"

Its not much of a trick answer when the answer is ZERO.

And so...

We have launched a new retail online web site at, and have devoted ourselves to providing real life experiences for every product. When our staff is not busy helping you on the sales floor, they are busy recording their own experiences for every product on the sales floor that they have used. Not only can you read what they think of the product, how and when they have used it, but you can actually listen to them tell you about it. Check out this example item - the Bearvault Bear Resistant Food Canister BV500 700 Cubic Inches. These are the same stories and examples you would get if you come into our store.

Anyway, I know I need to wrap this up. And I appreciate you sticking with me so far! The Experience Project has become a fun party for us, with great results for our community and our ability for outreach. We are looking for community members to come join us in this party as Ambassadors of The Great Outdoors and provide us with your own experiences in exchange for points that can be redeemed for great stuff or gifts for friends. If you want to join the party, come into the store and let us know.

Warm Regards,

Steve Rice, Managing Partner


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