Located at 318 Broadway Boulevard, Reno, Nevada, Gear Hut is a remarkable organization that specializes in selling used gear at discounted prices. Leah and Rusty founded the store in 2018 after identifying a gap in Reno’s market for used equipment and small gear shops. They were encouraged by the success of this business model in other towns and decided to bring it to Reno.
The store operates on a consignment or donation basis, which reduces landfill waste while providing the community with quality gear at affordable prices. Pursuing the Green Business certification was a natural step for the business, emphasizing sustainability and environmental responsibility. Leah expressed nothing but positivity toward this endeavor.
Gear Hut is an active member of the community; they support local small businesses, donate to local nonprofits, and organize community clean-ups with Keep Truckee Meadows Beautiful.
Gear Hut places great importance on waste reduction. The store uses second-hand racks and displays from other stores or Craigslist. If they receive unsellable items, Gear Hut takes the initiative to donate them to suitable charities or dispose of them through local recycling programs. Upon entering, customers are greeted by a stunning front desk made entirely from locally sourced, recycled materials.
To promote sustainability among their employees, Gear Hut has installed a bike rack outside their store. When a new employee begins working, they select a few clothing items to use as a uniform and sow on a reusable Gear Hut patch. This way, employees will receive useful gear when they move on to new adventures, and Gear Hut will get their patch back.
Gear Hut is a part of some excellent reusable programs to help encourage the community to be more sustainable: the Little Kamper Exchange program and their rental Bear Vault. The Little Kamper Exchange program is a propane cylinder program where you buy the first canister, use it, and once it is empty, bring it in and exchange it for a full one at a discounted price. Gear Hut has diverted 129.6 lbs from the landfill by providing Little Kamper as a single-use propane alternative. Gear Hut’s bear vault rental program allows customers to rent out a canister for a small fee, which can be rented out for a night, week, or month.
An important innovative project Gear Hut has undertaken is teaming up with Ski Trucks, a company based in Salt Lake City that disassembles and recycles ski gear. The pieces that can be salvaged are given to artists who create furniture, thus reducing the amount of waste that goes to landfills. Gear Hut has been collecting gear for this program and is currently in its third round of collections. Since the spring of 2022, Gear Hut has helped divert approximately 1,551 pounds of waste.
Gear Hut faced various challenges, including how to price their gear without resorting to the standard method of attaching tags using a plastic tagger and single-use tags. To address this, they came up with a solution; they attached a paper tag to the hanger and added a new sticker containing the necessary information. By doing so, they were able to maintain their label while only generating waste from the backing of the new sticker placed on the tag.
In the gear industry, a major challenge is resisting the influence of marketing and the desire for the latest gear. Brands frequently release new colorways or versions of products, making older gear seem outdated and urging consumers to keep buying. Convincing people that they don’t always need the newest gear is difficult. Additionally, few gear companies offer circular programs, such as buyback options or plans for the product’s long-term lifespan. However, there is hope, and Leah has seen it in their business. “People daily tell us how cool and needed a store like Gear Hut is. We get a lot of support from the community wanting to be more sustainable.”
By working towards Green Business certification, Gear Hut was able to have important conversations with their landlords that they may not have had otherwise. Initially, the rented space did not provide recycling services, but after requesting it from the landlord, Gear Hut was able to obtain curb recycling for their store and the entire complex in which it is located.
Leah also mentioned that the green business certification appealed to them because it celebrated and validated what their business had already achieved. No large hoops and complicated tasks are associated with the green business program. A piece of advice Leah has for other businesses wanting to implement greener practices is, “Sometimes the greener option can be a bit costly upfront; however, down the line, it will end up saving you money and helping the planet.”