WEDA Success Stories
WEDA Success Stories
Category: 2016 Success Stories
Rick Young is pleased with the progress of 42◦ North. But like a marathon runner, he wants to set a pace that’s sustainable for the long haul.
“For now, we’re good,” he said. “We don’t want to grow too fast because I think a lot of small businesses make the mistake of trying to go too big, too fast. Then they end up closing their doors, and we don’t want to do that.”
Setting a proper pace is appropriate for a business that sells specialty shoes for runners and hikers. 42◦ North carries such brands as Topo, Hoka One One, and Altra. The store even has the Icebug line of carbide-studded footwear, which is designed for traction on snow and ice.
Rick and his wife, Cassie, opened 42◦ North in March 2016. Located at the Sunrise Shopping Center in Casper, it’s in space formerly occupied by an outdoor sports equipment store. When that business closed, Rick and Cassie saw an opportunity.
“My husband has always kind of wanted to open his own shop, so we decided to jump,” Cassie said, adding that the location is “close to the mountain for people heading up to go biking, hiking, skiing.”
Rick and Cassie are runners. “We run a lot to stay in shape,” Rick said. “That’s kind of where it started.”
When the couple’s children began participating in track, the need for a specialty shoe store for runners and hikers became even more apparent.
“We couldn’t get our questions answered, and we couldn’t get the right gear for runners,” Rick said. “So we thought we can complain about it or we can actually do something about it. Casper has never had a specialty running shop. Everybody in town carries box-store shoes, but there was no specialty store.”
Properly fitted shoes are essential for runners to avoid foot and leg injuries. Finding the right footwear requires both a wide product selection and a sales staff with expertise. At 42◦ North, Rick and Cassie supply both.
In addition to running shoes, 42◦ North carries hiking and walking footwear. The store also has plenty of other outdoor sports gear, including clothes, skis, and snowshoes.
Running and hiking enthusiasts have reacted with delight to 42◦ North.
“Very friendly!” Mary Jacobsen wrote on the business’s Facebook page. “I was looking for a trail running shoe, and they let me try them on and walk around Sunrise. Gave me a good feel for the shoe and how they fit and felt. He went through a lot of shoes with me and I found the perfect shoe. I will be back!”
Customer Erin Perrigo Taylor added,” I stopped in 10 minutes before closing, and these folks stayed open late to educate, try different models on, and still talk about socks. I am amazed at the customer service and product knowledge.”
In starting 42◦ North, Rick contacted the Wyoming Small Business Development Center Network for advice and guidance. Because of a slumping economy, local financial institutions were cautious about business lending. But Cindy Unger, SBDC business advisor in Casper, helped Rick put together a polished business plan and market analysis.
“She helped tremendously,” Rick said. “She was so nice and answered all our questions along the way. It eliminated a lot of guesswork.”
Armed with his business plan, Rick secured a loan at Hilltop National Bank. “Everything went just perfectly,” he said.