Getting on a trail, slope or waterway is beneficial to everyone's physical and mental health.
Through outdoor recreation, you can relax, get a thrill and make lasting memories. Yet it often feels like adventure recreation is a domain mainly for men; equipment, marketing and media coverage of skiing, kayaking and hiking are heavily male-influenced. This is unfortunate because according to Outside magazine in 2017, over 50 percent of outdoor recreation participants are women.
Bill & Paul's Sporthaus is a specialty equipment and clothing outfitter in Grand Rapids. Founded in 1961 as a store where skiers could purchase quality equipment from other skiers, Bill & Paul's has remained committed to gearing up ALL of West Michigan's outdoor lovers. They realized early on that moms, sisters, wives and daughters appreciate successful and comfortable adventures as much as their male counterparts.
"We know within families, mom heavily influences vacation activities, while most couples share in budget decisions," states Jon Holmes, Bill & Paul's store manager.
"So, why would we only cater to the guys in our community?"
Bill & Paul's strives to make women who want to spend time outside feel appreciated.
You could start with their buyers: They're active outdoor moms, dads and spouses who've lived through outings where underperforming products ended the day; they have first-hand knowledge of what makes technical clothing and equipment work; understand the importance fit, fashion and price and are sure to include female staff and customers when selecting what to stock. The result is a surprising selection of brands and styles curated specifically for women and girls who intend to use their gear.
You could say it's their presentation. Women's products aren't sprinkled around the store between the guy's stuff and there's nearly an equal selection for men and women in every category. Women's footwear and equipment are clearly aligned, labeled and separated, while women's clothing is front and center in the upstairs showroom—making finding what you're looking for an easy and comfortable experience.
Around the Haus, they'd say it's their staff. Every interaction is meant to be an education rather than a sale, and they truly want you to understand the features and benefits of your purchase.
"Our goal is not to sell you stuff," said Ryan Dean, general manager for Bill & Paul's.
"It's to support successful outings with the appropriate clothing and equipment so you'll continue to play outdoors and recreate even more—and that's been our mission since we opened. We hope we've earned your trust and you'll return when you need that next piece of gear."
If you're a female outdoor enthusiast looking for a source of great products or are new to the outdoors and are intimated by other retail options, visit Bill & Paul's. Their motto sums it up well:
"Trust Your Gear, Trust Your Source."
Content and photo courtesy of Bill & Paul's.