By Bo Mello | Contributor
A gateway to adventure is what customers will find when they enter The Bear Mountain. The outdoor and bike shop builds personal connections, and its customer loyalty is accompanied by a knowledgeable staff and a friendly golden retriever.
The Bear Mountain is an outdoor and bike shop that has locations in Waco and College Station.
The shop in Waco has been serving the city and surrounding areas for about 10 years.
In 2006, Brandon Blagg, owner of The Bear Mountain, said he saw a need in the city of Waco and wanted to combine it with his love for the outdoors and his career.
“I saw shops like this in other towns like Lubbock and Stillwater, Oklahoma, and I thought if those towns have one, we should too,” Blagg said.
However, there were a lot of reasons The Bear Mountain could and should have failed in the past. The shop was able to overcome a lot of obstacles by providing great customer service.
The employees work hard and are always willing to help everyone who comes into the store, Joel Allen, Manager of The Bear Mountain Campus Store, said.
“Everyone that works here is really committed, fiercely committed to the store in a good way,” Allen said.
Assistant manager Dylan Priddy said the employees try to engage with the customers on a personal level so that the needs of the customers are met.
By doing so, The Bear Mountain has built a sense of loyalty in their customer base.
On top of being able to help the customers, a gratifying part of working at The Bear Mountain is hearing the customers stories and seeing the customers love for the outdoors grow, Allen said.
“One particular family we worked with,” Allen said, “[the father] purchased his first bike … His wife got a … mountain bike. Both of the daughters got mountain bikes. The whole family started riding together all the time.
“You get to see where someone has looked at something that could be a hobby,” Allen said. “Something that might be kind of cool, and it becomes not just a lifestyle change for them, but a lifestyle thing for their entire family.”
One of the customers that Allen said he loves to hear stories from is Ray Lamb, an adjunct professor at Baylor University.
Lamb teaches mountain biking and has competed in multiple bike races, including the Tour Divide.
The Tour Divide is a 3,000-mile mountain bike race from Banff, Alberta, Canada, to Antelope Wells, N.M.
Lamb’s passion for mountain biking grew when his son asked him to go mountain biking with him for the first time.
When Lamb first rode with his son, he thought he was going to die. But ever since, he has had a passion for the sport, Lamb said.
Lamb started the mountain biking class at Baylor because of his passion for the sport. For the class, he chose to use bikes that were from The Bear Mountain because of their good quality and mutal passion for the sport.
“They carry quality products; they have a knowledgeable staff,;they’re reliable, dependable; that’s all you can ask for.”
Not only have the people in the shop continued to make The Bear Mountain a success, but the city of Waco’ support helped with their rising success.
“I’ve always been thankful of the community of Waco and Baylor and everybody that’s been really supportive of the store and has come in and checked us out,” Blagg said. “I feel lucky we have had a great town behind us that has been awesome to get to know.”
Blagg’s biggest development, though, did not come from owning the shop but from starting a family.
According to Blagg, trying to figure out how to juggle his family while owning the store has been both a learning experience and challenge.
“Still having time and prioritizing [my] family is important to me,” Blagg said.
His wife and kids are his biggest supporters and one of the reasons he is still able to do what he does for the shop.
“I have two kids who have taught me more about myself than anything,” Blagg said.
The store has expanded to three locations, and has created more than 30 jobs, Blagg said.