Best Sporting Goods Store

Old Mountains Gear Exchange

Greg Echelmeier, the owner of Old Mountains Gear Exchange and a lifelong outdoorsman, swears by his brown leather Vasque hiking boots — the same ones he's had for nearly 22 years. He opened his outdoor and climbing gear shop in March hoping to offer a cheap, neighborhood alternative to megastores that pedal pricey, low-quality goods. The result is this one-man shop on a sleepy residential street in Webster Groves where you can find high-quality consignment climbing and camping gear as well as new apparel made by boutique, American designers. "This might be a St. Louis thing, but people tend to hoard things here. People have boots they wore once or expensive kayaks they never use in their garages. Consignment is a good business model," Echelmeier explains, adding that a $100 kayak might get someone in the water for the first time, where a $2,000 investment might lead them out to the parking lot empty-handed. "And if you try it and decide you don't like what you bought, you can sell it right back." For climbers, the shop is heaven: chalk in bulk, $6 boar's hair cleaning brushes, buckets of shoes, Verve gear and an owner who is as generous with his time and extensive knowledge as he is with his prices.

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