Shop Name: The Gear House
Owner’s Name: Robert Leeson, Robin Crandall
Location: 16 Pleasant St., Randolph, VT
Established: March 1, 2020
Primary Brands: Rocky Mountain Bicycles, Bianchi USA, Giro, Darn Tough, Vermont Glove, Handup
The Gear House – How’d it come to be?
After racing against each other in a Maine state high school mountain bike race series, Robin and Rob found themselves racing together on their college team in Asheville, North Carolina. After Graduating and spending a few years working various jobs, including mechanics/tour leaders for America By Bicycle, thoughts began to form about opening a shop. Shortly later, Robin was approached by Zach Freeman of R.A.S.T.A. — he had a lead on a retail space in his home town of Randolph and the rest is history.
You opened up very recently. How has it been gaining a following of customers and getting the word out there?
Getting the word out about our new shop has been a challenge in this strange time. We had a lot of community engagement before the virus got bad and word of the shop is getting around town. Right now, social media is our biggest way to be engaged in the community as we can’t host events or group rides. Plans are also underway to market to surrounding towns and beyond, once people can start traveling again. We hope to attract cyclists and other outdoor enthusiasts from beyond central Vermont to New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and New York.
What makes the shop stand out from other shops here in Vermont?
The beautiful thing about Vermont bike shops is that they are all unique in some way. While specializing in bicycles, we also recognize that there is a need for other outdoor gear in the area and that new gear is usually just too expensive for many people… especially for those who are just thinking about trying out a new sport and can’t quite justify spending hundreds or thousands of on brand new gear right away. To answer this question though, we are carrying a selection of outdoor consignment gear. Our selection is full of quality gear, gently used with plenty of life left. The shop also has a room designated to the local trail organization, R.A.S.T.A., where large 3d printed maps and recommended rides will be a great resource for visitors.
What is special about being in Randolph? This is the first bike shop in town since the last one closed over twenty years ago, right?
Randolph is a fun and active town that still maintains that small town feel. Drivers are kind to cyclists and landowners are generous in their access permission. Everyone works together here and that’s what makes it special. Yes, Slab City Bicycles closed in the 90’s and has been sorely missed. Paul Rae who ran that shop is now our landlord and has proven to be an incredible resource for us in more ways than we can count. We have already seen and heard the excitement about a bike shop re-opening, and Randolph has a tight-knit community of outdoor enthusiasts.
It sounds like you have an interesting relationship with R.A.S.T.A. (Rochester/Randolph Area Sports Trail Alliance) Could you tell us more about that?
R.A.S.T.A. was absolutely a huge factor in us opening the shop here, and moving forward The Gear House and R.A.S.T.A. plan to partner on many projects and events in the community. We share a space with them as well. Anyone who comes into the shop is welcome to breeze into the R.A.S.T.A. Trail Hub; a room full of 3D and 2D maps of all the trails in Randolph, Rochester, Pittsfield, and a statewide map including every regional chapter in Vermont. Because of the location of our shop in the center of town with a large municipal lot to one side, group rides and trail work days will start and end at the shop.
Do you have a decent amount of trail access from the shop?
Yes, there are two trail networks that are riding distance from the shop. The Town Forest Trails at The Ellis lot are a super fun old school network that R.A.S.T.A. has been breathing new life into over the last few years. One flow trail called Apple Core has been added to that network and Zach intends on developing more machine built riding. The Seward Town Forest has a small network that connects back to town through privately owned land. Many other land owners are excited to host trails and there is much to be built during the 2020 season. Currently rideable as well as newly planned trails can be seen on R.A.S.T.A.’s website.
What does a visitor need to know? Tell us about some must-ride trails and your favorite post-ride beer spot.
Riding from the Ellis Lot up Reservoir Loop, Hansel & Gretel, Ol’ 56 and then down Cut it Loose and Apple Core would be a good loop that can be amended or added onto in lots of fun ways. It starts with a technical old-school singletrack and some punchy climbs and ends with a machine-built, flow trail with fun drops and fast berms.
There are multiple restaurants and bars in town that have great beer selections like One Main and The Black Krim. Also you could pull off towards the end of a gravel ride at Bent Hill Brewery! They have a great little taproom with a scenic view of Bent Hill Road, and amazing small-batch beer options.
Anything else you would like to share with the MTBVT community?
We are excited for riding season to hit so we can share the Randolph experience with both Vermonters and visitors. With a solid offering of trails for every ability & more to come, some top notch food options, a youth summer camp, races for multiple riding disciplines, and our freshly renovated shop… it’s worth a day trip to come say hi!