GET IN (USED) GEAR
With their April 23 Gear Fest, Chris Kaminski and Christine Iksic are testing the waters — and splashing in a little beer.
The two Pittsburgh-area friends are hosting a consignment sale of used outdoors gear — packs and tents, bikes and kayaks, snowshoes, cross-country skis, hiking boots and outdoors wear, camp stoves, etc. — that Sunday in the gymnasium at the Ace Hotel in East Liberty. They’ve invited more than 20 vendors and exhibitors, as well as several local breweries whose beer will be for sale, with a backdrop of live music and prize raffles.
They’re billing it as a celebration of the region’s outdoors scene, of Earth Day and of Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week.
But it’s also a pop-up preview of the business they plan to open, retailing both used and new specialty gear for outdoorspeople like themselves: 3 Rivers Outdoor Co.
“We really want it to be a community center and not just a retail store,” says Ms. Iksic, 36, of Aspinwall, who envisions a place where people can come and plan their next adventure over a mug of local beer. She says that she and Mr. Kaminski, who lives in Shaler, already are looking for financing at a location in Lawrenceville that could open next spring.
Meanwhile, she now works selling GPS equipment; he just started working for the forthcoming Main Event Entertainment venue in North Fayette after other recreation-oriented jobs. They’re both boomerang Pittsburghers who pursued their outdoors passions elsewhere — including Colorado for him, New Zealand and beyond for her — before they wound up back in Pittsburgh and realized all of the outdoor charms that this region has to offer, from whitewater paddling to ice climbing.
They’d like 3 Rivers Outdoor to be a hub for connecting people who do and want to do stuff like that. Ms. Iksic explains that their ethos will be sustainability, hence their interest in selling used gear; the new gear they sell will be from companies that share their vision.
That’s the idea behind Gear Fest, too: Participants can clean out their basements and garages and make a little green, while keeping their old gear out of the landfill, and maybe pick up gear they can use without buying something brand new.
“Getting into the outdoors can be really expensive,” she says. “Getting used gear helps people jump that hurdle,” especially if they’re not yet sure if they’ll like a particular activity.
Plus, if you’re like her and imagine the unused gear filling your closets as having personalities, a la the movie “Toy Story,” “Now your product is going to someone locally who is going to bring more stories and more life to that product.”
The sale is to work like this: At registration, sellers set the price they want to get for each item. If it sells, they get 80 percent of the amount, via check or PayPal, soon after the day of the sale. The couple keep 19 percent and donate 1 percent to First Waves, a local nonprofit that uses standup paddleboarding, the art of filmmaking and digital media to inspire conservation of local waterways and mentorship for atrisk youth.
Sellers are asked to clean and wash all gear and to let the couple know in advance if they are bringing very large items such as canoes, or a lot of items, to make sure there will be room for them.
Certain items cannot be sold at sale, including safety equipment — such as helmets, harnesses and life jackets — and nonoutdoors clothing.
The couple have held informational nights at several breweries where people could preregister and drop off gear for the sale. They’ll be doing another one Saturday night and Sunday for ticketholders at the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Byham Theater, Downtown, presented by Venture Outdoors (ventureoutdoors.
Shoppers can get an advance look at some of the items that are for sale that the couple are posting on their website and on social media (sellers are invited to post photos on Instagram tagged #gearfestpgh, #3rocpgh or #usedgearnewbeer).
The day of the Gear Fest, sellers can bring their gear to the Ace Hotel to register for sale from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The actual sales and other fun will run from noon to 5 p.m. Sellers need to pick up unsold gear from 5 to 7 p.m. or consider it donated.
Beers will be available from East End Brewing Co. of Larimer, Grist House Craft Brewery of Millvale, Hop Farm Brewing Co. of Lawrenceville and Spoonwood Brewing Co. of Bethel Park.
Also participating will be several makers and vendors of natural and/or outdoorsy goods, clubs and outfitters such as Three Rivers Rowing Association and the new Ascend climbing/yoga/fitness studio, and nonprofit groups including Allegheny County Parks and the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Read all about it at gearfestpgh.com.
One of the outfitters, Wilderness Voyageurs of Ohiopyle, still is sponsoring the big annual Beer and Gear Fest in that Youghiogheny River mecca on June 17. Details can be found at wilderness-voyageurs.com/ aboutwv/ohiopyle-events/ beer-and-gear.
Ms. Iksic says she and Mr. Kaminski might hold another Gear Fest in the fall and might make it an annual event — at their store.
Gear Fest co-founder Christine Iksic talks with Paul Pistella of Millvale while collecting used outdoors gear Sunday at Grist House Craft Brewery in Millvale. The goods will be sold on consignment at Gear Fest.
Christine Iksic and Scott Ferrari, left, both of Aspinwall, collect used outdoors gear at Grist House Craft Brewery in Millvale in preparation for this month’s Gear Fest, co-founded by Ms. Iksic. The event will feature a consignment sale of outdoor equipment and apparel and also beer from local breweries.