s the name implies, The Trailhead is a place to gather. In the spirit of the classic Colorado mountain town, it’s where you become acquainted with the Buena Vista (BV) outdoor community and the world-class recreational opportunities the area holds all around it, including providing a welcoming and friendly environment.
“The Trailhead began in 1972 and we continue that heritage of the local gear shop here in BV,” says Dave Blazer, co-owner of outdoor specialty shop with he wife, Ashley Blazer. They’re a local family with a passion for the outdoor industry. The Blazers love going on outdoor adventures with their three young kids and they especially love to get out to climb and bike.
The store has achieved year-after-year growth, up 30 percent since 2012. “There’s definitely a relationship between The Trailhead’s growth and the overall growth of BV,” Dave says. “We are excited to continue to stay sharp and enjoy people coming to the area to play.”
While not wanting to “give away too much of the special sauce,” Dave says there are a handful of things fueling the shop’s success. “I would start with our move to Main Street a couple of years ago,” he says. “We love being a part of a vibrant downtown community that provides a diverse and rich experience for our customers and visitors.” That includes the draw of tourists and locals into the adjacent Simple Eatery café, in the Trailhead building. “You can grab some amazing food or libations as you roll into town for the weekend or while planning for or reflecting on your day’s adventures.”
Being located in a walkable, very authentic mountain town also helps. The area has the largest concentration of 14ers in the state (14 to be exact), great climbing and camping, world class whitewater, motorized and non-motorized trails, and “a super friendly atmosphere for everyone — whether you have little kids, big kids or no kids.”
Some call it a craft-community feel. “Just like small batch distilleries or breweries, we like to create that craft experience — small but carefully and intentionally put together,” says Blazer. “We love interacting with people when they come in the shop to help facilitate their questions, help provide options for adventures in the valley or just enjoy time with them while they’re here. It’s pretty great to be able to introduce people to and share with them our little corner of paradise.”
Some of our customers enjoy the online experience, but still like to shop locally, or like talking with a person to actually interact while making a purchase. We love it too.”
Dave and Ashley met at a climbing gym in Memphis, TN. Ashley ran Ole Miss Outdoors, the outdoor program at the University of Mississippi. They also both worked as guides in the area. “It was a really cool place to meet,” says Dave, a Colorado native with a history in the corporate world, small business and outdoor retail.
“While living in BV we wanted to pursue something that would both connect us into the community as well as allow us to interact with customers and visitors — The Trailhead has been such a great vehicle for that,” he explains. In 2013 the couple purchased The Trailhead from the previous owners, who were looking to begin a new adventure.
The shop features about 6000-square feet in its one, “flagship location,” Blazer jokes. “We range, depending on season, about 11 employees in the summer and six to seven in the winter.”
Dave credits his staff for the store’s success. “John Williams is our GM and Buyer and Jon Ten Brink is our floor manager. We have staff that excel in everything and have specific areas of expertise. Brad is our Overland guru. He’s been over every mountain pass in the entire world on his motorcycle, I think. And is the local expert on how to get to the Arctic Circle and back in one piece.”
The trends we see still gaining steam are segments that support short-range camping adventures.
Several annual events in town draw people to Buena Vista, just two-and-a-half hours from Denver. These include Paddlefest, Rapids & Grass, 7 Peaks Music Festival and or 14er Fest.
“Another great aspect, that makes the business community here in BV come alive is a very cohesive, neighborly and entrepreneurial environment,” Blazer says.
“We coexist well and work to collaborate for the betterment of the town and the growth/development of what we love to do here. We’re proud of our town and are incredibly grateful that people want to spend time here.”