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How to Buy Local (and Score a Deal) During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Keep mom-and-pop gear shops in business and get great deals when you buy from specialty retailers that have shuttered their shops but are still shipping.

Programs like free expedited Amazon Prime shipping and REI Dividends often put big-box retailers and online megastores front-of-mind for gear purchases.

But independently owned gear shops all over the U.S. also sell online, and they may have better deals, more educated and experienced staff, and killer customer service than any corporate chain.

Deep into COVID-19 closures, one way to help is to buy a gift card for future use. But the real win-win is shopping on specialty retail websites.


Some of these retailers have closed their physical locations, but they’re still shipping. And to move inventory, they’re offering insane deals.

Maybe you’re not sure you need new skis right now because your employment future is unknown. But what if they’re 70% off? Maybe you’ve been ogling a The North Face jacket, but you couldn’t pull the trigger because it’s more than you want to spend. What if it’s now 25% off?

And maybe a new backpack or pair of boots will help you get some exercise and take your stress levels down a notch during shelter-in-place orders.

Here are some favorite deals from independently owned stores. Browse the retailers’ websites for even more great finds. And don’t forget to check your own local shop’s status via phone or their website.

3 Rivers Outdoor Co. in Pittsburgh, PA


The only independently and locally owned outdoor shop in Pittsburgh carries new and used gear. On the first Friday of every month, it hosts a campfire outside the shop with free s’mores.

During the shutdown, the store is doing a group virtual campfire via Zoom every Friday at 8 p.m. Eastern with live music. All are welcome to play. Last Friday, 50 people dropped in.

On Tuesdays, the shop hosts a run club in a local park followed by free beer back in the shop post-run (on hold until further notice). But 3 Rivers’ adventure book club launches virtually on April 1 as a way to keep the community strong and connected.

Check out these deals from 3 Rivers:

Midwest Mountaineering in Minneapolis, MN


GearJunkie has a long history with Midwest Mountaineering. Several of our employees cut their teeth on the Midwest Mountaineering sales floor, and we’ve taken part in many of the store’s events over the years. And we’d love to see the shop, now open 50 years, weather this storm.

Now, Midwest, as it’s known locally, is offering curbside (parking lot) pickup Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For curbside (parking lot) pickup, call 612-339-3433. You can pay for your purchase with a credit card over the phone. Midwest Mountaineering staff will put your merchandise in your trunk without you getting out of your car.

If you prefer to shop in-store to find that perfect boot or boat fit, the store also offers shopping in-store by appointment only. You can contact the store to set up an appointment.

Bivouac in Ann Arbor, MI

A family-owned outdoor clothing and gear shop and fashion boutique, Bivouac has been outfitting Ann Arbor, Michigan, since 1971! The brand takes pride in selling products that enrich customers’ lives and prepare them for whatever adventures lie ahead.

Bivouac offers great service with a smile. And to answer the brand’s most-asked question, its name means “temporary campsite” and can be used as a noun or a verb.

Check out these deals from Bivouac:

Summit Hut in Tucson, AZ

SH Store Wide Shot

For over 50 years, family-owned Summit Hut has outfitted the Tucson, Arizona, community and visitors to the area with services and merchandise to suit every customer’s unique outdoor and travel endeavors.

The brand is proud to offer the finest gear and resources for climbing, mountaineering, backpacking, camping, hiking, trekking, travel, birding, search-and-rescue, trail running, navigation, orienteering, and much more.

Check out these deals from Summit Hut:

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