The Gear Closet has provided low-cost and affordable camping, hiking and outdoor equipment to its shoppers for years. A recent lease change, though, left the consignment shop searching for a new location.
"We weren't blindsided. We knew we were going to have to move," said owner Mary Beth Sutton, who had rented the space near the North Shore's Cherokee Boulevard/Chilhowie Street intersection for years. "Cherokee Boulevard was exploding and we'd gotten a great deal. We weren't going to be able to keep an acre of land."
The nonprofit's close relationship and previous partnerships with Green's Eco Build and Design has resulted in a new permanent home for the secondhand store, which will be sharing space at 1510 Riverside Drive with Green's. The arrangement should not affect how much gear the store will be able to carry, Sutton said.
She expects the new location will be ready by May 20.
The Gear Closet's new home features more office space and a warehouse behind the storefront, and Sutton said she's hopeful the two businesses can use the additional space to create even more programs together. They've teamed up in the past for education and community programs centered around environmental projects like composting, building rain barrels and managing rain gardens as ways to reduce erosion from excess stormwater in the community.
"We've got a big space, and so we've been talking about some crazy ideas," she said. "Nothing is concrete, but we'd like to do bigger community events or even a farmers market here."
The Gear Closet's recent Earth Day Expo and Gear Swap showcased that potential. Held on Earth Day, the event provided an opportunity for members of the community to buy and sell gear and learn about the nonprofit's continued financial support of clean water efforts around the world, such as those of Caribbean SEA and the local arm, TenneSEA, both of which Green's Eco Build has provided assistance with in the past.
Proceeds from all of The Gear Closet's sales benefit such efforts.
At the very least, The Gear Closet manager Jenn Grymes said the new location will enable the shop to reach a new part of Chattanooga.
"We've put a lot of effort into our marketing and social media to grow. Being more visible to the public will help that out even more," Grymes said.
For more information about The Gear Closet, visit gearcloset.org or call 413-3298.