Laramie’s newest outdoors store is aiming to be a welcoming place that encourages people to spend time outside.
Laramie’s Basecamp, 222 S. Second St., celebrated its grand opening May 4. New owner Rebecca Walsh and her husband, Al, purchased the store formerly known as Cross Country Connection from Ken Cramer, who opened it in 1981.
“We want it to feel like a place for the community — a place where people can come and learn, meet each other and learn about our local trails,” Walsh said. “We want it to be so much more than just a gear shop.”
The Walshes spent a month redesigning the store, which features an 18-foot-long waxing bench, meeting area and play space for children.
“We’ll be able to have three sets of ski techs work on skis at the same time,” she said.
In the meeting area, Basecamp will offer first-aid and CPR classes, crafts for children and demonstrations on topics such as backpacking, summer ski storage and roller skiing.
“Our mission is not just to provide gear, but to provide opportunities for people to get outdoors and maybe learn some new skills,” Walsh said.
One employee, Meghan Kent, will focus her efforts on organizing events and interacting with the community. She said Laramie has tons of great outdoor recreation at its doorstep, but a lot of residents don’t know what’s out there or aren’t comfortable taking the first step.
“I see us as being able to help bridge that gap and get people outdoors,” Kent said.
Walsh plans to continue the seasonal ski rental program offered by Cross Country Connection while expanding to include a host of other types of equipment — tents, backpacks, chalk bags, crash pads, stand-up paddleboards, roller skis, cook sets, sleeping pads and backpack carriers.
A backpacker on a budget might not want to buy a tent for a single summer trip, hence the rental option, she said. Likewise, parents with small children might not want to invest in a backpack carrier for their small child who will soon outgrow it.
“That’s a good way to still get outdoors and fit every budget,” she said of gear rentals.
In the retail arena, Basecamp sells clothing and equipment from popular brands in the outdoor industry while making room for smaller regional and local businesses. For example, the store sells clothing from Laramie’s High Plains Apparel, backpacks from Denver’s Adventurist Backpack Company and skirts from Kind Apparel, based in Missoula, Montana, that are made from recycled plastic bottles.
“We want people to shop local, but we’re kind of hypocritical if we’re only bringing in the big names in the outdoor industry,” Walsh said.
Walsh, who was born in Laramie and grew up in Bozeman, Montana, comes from a background in Nordic ski racing. She spent several years after high school as a member of the National Guard Biathlon Program and competed around the world.
She spent 17 years in the Army on active duty and in the Wyoming National Guard.
She and Al, both avid hikers, moved to Laramie in 2011 and started Just Trails. The site has information about area trails, with a focus on southeastern Wyoming and northern Colorado.
A few years later, Walsh started Hike Like a Woman, which is dedicated to helping women pursue outdoor adventures. The site has expanded to include a podcast, digital magazine and staff of contributors. Walsh also leads a local hiking group for moms and preschoolers.
Basecamp plans to offer online sales and rental reservations at www.laramiesbasecamp.com. The store is open seven days a week.
Through Sept. 1, shoppers are invited to play Basecamp’s version of Bingo.
The playing board’s spaces encourage people to do things like go on a technology-free hike, donate a piece of gear, pick up trash and explore a new trail while earning a discount at the store.