When it comes to discovering the great outdoors and being prepared, one of the state’s best one-stop-shops has you covered
By Carin Hall
As a proud supporter of North Carolina’s Year of the Trail in 2023, Great Outdoor Provision Co. prioritizes helping locals find adventures on some of the state’s most cherished greenways and blueways. With nine stores throughout North Carolina and Virginia, Great Outdoor Provision Co. is not only abound with a range of outdoors gear and equipment, but also with the expertise and desire to empower people to get outside.
In the Wilmington shop, kayaking and SUPing are particularly popular with locals. And sure, you can find all the trusted brands like Hobie, Hurricane, NuCanoe, Badfish and Jackson Kayak in store—but, just as valuable, is the staff’s expert knowledge and interest in helping customers feel fully prepared out in the field.
“Pete has managed our Wilmington location for at least 20 years and is extremely knowledgeable in that space,” says President Chuck Millsaps. “When you go to that shop, it’s the people like him who help you get great expert advice in a short amount of time.”
Customers can request a demo for a small fee that can be applied to the purchase price (see website for the QR code to sign up), allowing hands-on experience with the products they want to try or that the staff suggests. Of course, Great Outdoor Provision Co. also offers larger demo events for free if traveling is an option. Coming up, tons of kayaks, canoes and SUPs will be demoed at Lake Crabtree on April 20th and May 18th; and, on March 4th and 25th and April 1st, fly-fishing full-day courses are available in Raleigh for beginners to intermediate fishers to learn about casting, knots, equipment, strategies and fly selection. (Sign-ups available online while they last).
“The fly-fishing classes provide everything you need, including equipment and lunch,” says Millsaps. “It really enables someone to have a solid working knowledge of fly-fishing by the end of the day.”
During the pandemic, many of the events and demos were restricted, but Marketing and Sportswear Manager Leah Bradley says there was a boom of interest in people wanting to get outside. That partly inspired the Adventure widget on the website, which helps visitors find a variety of outdoor activities according to their interest and makes suggestions on complementary products to support those experiences.
“The intention of that effort is to connect people to the many places in our local area that they can explore,” says Bradley. “We want to make resources related to those destinations accessible and point to the products that can make those experiences all the better.”
Millsaps has also noticed an uptick in outdoor recreation with more people working remotely and moving into the state in recent years. Great Outdoor Provision Co.’s Get Hiking group on Meetup saw an increase in active members across its multiple chapters.
“People are wanting to know where to hike and get out on the water,” says Millsaps. “We’ve been able to provide a resource for both the more popular destinations, as well as many of the lesser-known spots with fewer crowds.”
“The outdoors has served as a safe place for a lot of people,” adds Bradley. “We love being part of a movement that connects new audiences to new adventures, as well as helping longtime lovers of the outdoors get back into the hobbies they love.”
But you don’t need to travel far, either. More and more people are interested in local, short and sweet activities that connect them with nature on a regular basis. Wilmington is an outdoor playground with so many beautiful options like Davis Creek Park, Carolina Beach State Park, Smith Creek Park & Preserve, Fort Fisher State Recreation Area and the Riverwalk, just to name a few.
For more inspiration on where to go and what to do, try the Adventure feature on Great Outdoor Provision Co.’s website, sign up for a local (or afar) event and visit their experts in person.
“Our staff live and breathe the outdoors,” says Bradley. “Our customers know that they can turn to them for expert advice on anything and everything they want to do in the area and beyond.”
In addition to their participation in the Year of the Trail, Great Outdoor Provision Co. supports several community land protection funds. With the launch of their Land Trust Day in 1992, ten percent of sales on the first day of every June are donated to the Local Land Trust. Millsaps describes it as a “self-imposed” tax to ensure that the beautiful places of North Carolina are well maintained for future generations to come.
“It’s a way of reminding ourselves and customers of the resources we have available in our state, and to encourage them to give back as we do,” says Millsaps.
To find and outfit your next outdoor adventure, visit greatoutdoorprovision.com