For nearly 10 years, Half-Moon Outfitters has been an outdoor resource for Savannah-area athletes, from providing them with gear to helping them find the best place to use it.
“We do the best we can to direct people in the right direction,” says store manager Christin Schoettle. “There’s usually someone in the shop who knows about a trail or a campsite. If not they know someone who knows, so we’ll give them a call.
“Of course, that works both ways,” she says. “We like finding out about new places from customers, too. We learn a lot from them.”
That vision of Half-Moon Outfitters as an outdoor resource is implanted in its DNA. The first store was opened in Charleston in 1993 and has now expanded to include nine stores in South Carolina and Georgia. The Savannah store opened in 2005 as the fifth store in the group.
“For our audience, the common denominator is the sports themselves,” says Beezer Molten, founder of Half-Moon Outfitters. “For these sports, the age requirements are nonexistent. We try to pursue the sports that we love that make sense for our brand.”
Those sports have changed over the years—and reflect each store’s community. But Half-Moon Outfitters broadly covers most outdoor activities, including hiking, trail running, climbing, paddling and camping. In a place like Savannah, water access drives much of what’s popular, especially in the summer.
“It’s so darn hot,” says Schoettle. “When it’s 100 degrees, you want to find something to do in the water.”
That helps explain why stand-up paddle boarding has become so popular in the area.
“People are definitely getting into the paddle boarding scene,” she says. “We don’t have the biggest waves here, so it lends itself to paddle boarding. Plus you can do it on the open ocean, back rivers, marshes, creeks, and the Intercoastal Waterway. We’ve also seen a lot more people fishing from kayaks.”
The definition of outdoor recreation has expanded since Molten opened his first store.
“That evolution has been one of the most enjoyable things I’ve watched in my 21 years in the business,” he says. “One of the turning points for me in this business was when the surf culture and backcountry ski culture slowly started to merge in 1994 around certain daypacks, flip flops, snowboards and long boards. There were certain products that started to bring these cultures together. I loved that fusion of sports."
“From that moment on for Half-Moon it has been mixing and melding of interesting sports,” he continues. “Everyone is participating in more than one sport. The fly fisherman is also a trail runner. That’s the way it’s going to be from here on out. People want to have multiple adventures and disciplines during a weekend. That appeals to me personally and that’s the approach Half-Moon is built on.”
Events, seminars and ongoing demonstrations bring new people to the activities Half-Moon promotes. “We build our events based on feedback from experiments we’ve tried in the past. The better event topics get repeated,” Molten says. “Our planning is based on feeling and what people are telling us.”
The rise in endurance sports has also created more opportunities for outdoor retailers.
“Running is becoming a lot more popular in Savannah,” Schoettle says. “We now have the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon in town, and there are a lot more running events. Mud runs and alternative runs like that are bringing in a lot of people.”
“Events are where you hear people say ‘This is the best day of my life,’” Molton says. “After you have a customer finish a 5k in the dirt or mud and get a very dramatic reaction. That’s when it hits home about how powerful these activities are and why we do what we do.”
For Schoettle, the best part of the job is getting to know her customers and helping them achieve their outdoor dreams.
“I love it when we have someone come in who’s getting ready to hike the AT,” she says. “You get to know them and can help them with all they need to accomplish this big goal. That’s very satisfying.”
This content was produced for your enjoyment, thanks to a partnership among OSM, Half Moon Outfitters, Osprey Packs, Chaco, and RootsRated.