Each year we come up with a general theme that directs our creative work for each launch. It gives us some navigation points for what kind of imagery we want, how we'll style our clothes for the shoots and most importantly what kinds of stories we want to tell.
This spring, we decided to focus on local businesses in our home city of Missoula Montana, as a way to shine light on the incredible people and stories in our community.
Our very first launch of Spring 2023 had a product selection with a very retro feel - a vintage outdoor silhouette, and some remixed fits. Internally, we chatted about the significance of early outdoor memories in how they've shaped the ways we spend time outside today. Childhood experiences of family camping trips, maybe a summer camp spent learning how to cook on a campfire and dress for the elements.
As the team started talking about this, we noted that gear and clothing were such an important piece of these memories for us. We had certain packs that we remembered, a pair of hiking boots from when we were 9 that we loved the purple shoelaces on, and that swooshy L.L. Bean anorak that packed up into itself.
While you will all go out and create memories in your new pieces the clothing also has a story of a life before it arrives to you. Clothing and gear with stories and memories.
And what better place to find clothing and gear with miles and miles of stories to their lives? The Sports Exchange - Missoula's funky outdoor gear consignment shop with layers of treasures, cute shop dogs, a rockin sound system and vibrantly energetic owners.
So on a bright Friday morning, we gathered some samples and our cameras and headed to the shop to shoot photos of owner Mini Ford (her and her husband Zach own the joint together) and learn what it's like to run The Sports Exchange. Spoiler alert - Mini has a personality that is anything but (mini) and we had an epic time.
Mini and Zach have owned the Sports Exchange since 2016, Zach used to work their under the previous ownership, and they have TRANSFORMED the space into a menagerie of interconnected treasure troves filled with everything from vintage wool button ups, to backcountry ski equipment, to sleeping bags, to ski onesies and even a colorful collection of wigs. The shop has been in Missoula since 1985 and they're passionate about keeping the dream alive.
Upon walking in, visitors are greeted by the friendly shop dogs who wobble around happily.
And great tunes. The sound system bumps and the playlists deliver - no sleepy news radio, they're serving up dance party. Which is what we got! Mini is a passionate hip hop dancer and entertained us with her talent as we moved throughout the space.
They recently acquired the cozy basement of the building and have set up an exciting maze of ski and snowboard equipment, fishing gear bikes and the "clearance cave" that doubles as a sweet spot to test out skateboards.
Mini says about running the business, "you never get bored. We see a lot of people, hear their adventure stories, see their cool photos - it's fun, it's really exciting!"
"We're a community shop. When you come here you find out it's not just a treasure house. When you spend money here, it goes back to the person who brought in the gear. It's a local thing"
One of Mini's biggest loves is teaching snowboarding in the winters (she RIPS), but she says "anything you see in the store, I do - even if just a little bit".
See Mini in action, in her treasure house over on instagram.