In these tough economic times, the squeeze is on for outdoor retailers, especially the small independent folks who’ve been your reliable local source for gear when you need it fast. Over the years, I’ve visited many Florida retailers, and it’s my experience that small local shops beat the big chains every time when it comes to customer service. As I have the opportunity to revisit these shops, I’ll be posting full details about them, but I’ve been asked more than once for a list of independent outfitters in Florida who carry backpacking and hiking gear, so here goes:
Adventure Outfitters, Tampa
Andy Thornal, Winter Haven
Bill Jackson’s, Pinellas Park
Black Creek Outfitters, Jacksonville
Buck N Bass Sport Center & Outfitters, Salt Springs
Flint Creek Outfitters, Ocala
Jet’s Florida Outdoors, Miami
Mosquito Creek Outdoors, Apopka
Tampa Bay Outfitters, Tampa
Trail & Ski, Tallahassee
Travel Country Outdoors, Altamonte Springs
While they don’t mention it on their website, Adventures Unlimited in Milton (near Pensacola) also carries some hiking gear in their on-site shop, where most of the items are for paddlers.
If you know of other NON-chain stores I’ve missed, please add them to the comments! In addition, I suggest you bookmark the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance. Based in Asheville, NC, these folks bring together small independent outfitters from around the country in a national network, and their blog keeps you up to date on the latest from their members.