High Country Outfitters was established in 1975 in Atlanta. They are still family-owned and operated, with 6 locations around Georgia and Tennessee. The store was started by Bubba Sloan, and today, his son John and wife Caroline, are the managers and buyers.
High Country Outfitters is one of Free Fly's top dealers in the country and they are the quintessential outdoor speciality store. Educated staff, great atmosphere, and super involved in their location outdoor community. John and Caroline are also two of our favorite buyers to work with and they're always spot on with their taste and style recommendations. So between busy days spent managing the stores and racing from cool outdoor spot to the next, we caught up with John and Carolina to talk all things outdoor industry, retail, and Free Fly.
Describe High Country Outfitters in one sentence:
John: Locally owned speciality shop that is dedicated to providing a quality experience for adventurers around the world.
Caroline: A place where customers and friends can get together, plan for their next adventure, learn about the best new products, and have a great experience.
What makes High Country unique compared to other outdoor stores?
John: The staff is what sets us apart. They create an unforgettable and fun experience that is hard to find these days. We also find and sell new gear and apparel that we would actually want to use and wear. There is nothing boring in the store.
Caroline: Our staff is exceptional..truly. We have experienced outdoorsmen, retired guides, well-traveled young adults, athletes, students, and people from diverse backgrounds. Our founder and my father-in-law, Bubba Sloan, always comes in everyday, which is awesome. Did I mention that he started High Country in 1975? You just don't get experience like that anymore. But also, when you walk into High Country, it's like coming home to your dog. It's a place that excites you, that makes you feel welcome, and inspires you to get outside and play.
What's your favorite thing about specialty retail?
John: Being passionate about the gear we sell and of course... testing it out!
Caroline: Connecting with people on a personal level, or the relationship we create and have with our customers. Also, our staff feels like family -- even as we continue to grow -- our customers feel the family vibe when they come inside. Our customers feel like they are a part of our growth, and in a lot of ways become part of our High Country family.
How do you engage and give back to your local community?
John: We host many events throughout the year from trail runs to paddle board races that bring the community together around High Country.
Caroline: I have been teaching SUP yoga and paddling lessons o the river for the last 6 years. For 6 months out of the year, I watch the sunrise while I set anchors, experience the river change in the season, and invite students to let go to connect with mother nature. Pretty sure, because of this, I have the Chattahoochee River in my bloodstream. John and I also coordinate a number of events each year with HC. We host a paddle board race called Stand Up for the Hooch, every summer. We also host the Reel Rock film tour each fall. The proceeds go to the Southeastern Climber's Coalition, which is awesome. Another cool thing is we give out local trail maps to every customer that walks into our doors.
What sets apart Free Fly from other brands in your stores?
John: Free Fly is the hands down most comfortable apparel in the store. On top of that, the versatility! Free Fly works for any adventure from backpacking, to fishing, to international travel!
Caroline: It's a brand you can wear directly out of the store, to the trail, to downtown, it's sustainable, and it's great looking!
How do you describe Free Fly to a new customer?
John: "Feel this shirt... amazing, right? Free Fly is the most comfortable and versatile brand in our stores."
Caroline: "Extremely wearable both outside and day-to-day. Free Fly is based out of South Carolina and we dig that they design with comfort and humidity in mind. It's described by many of our staff as 'hands down their favorite brand in the shop.'"
Favorite Free Fly item?
John: Has to be the mid-weight bamboo hoody!
Caroline: Men's mid-weight hoody in a size small is my favorite weight for keeping me warm on a plane, covered on the beach when I read, or tucked into my waders when I fish. Even though I'm a chick, I have a huge head and appreciate the oversized sun hood when sunscreen stops working. I'm waiting on a more fitted dress or wrap dress to come around... ;)
Favorite outdoor activity to wear Free Fly?
John: Relaxing on the beach after a swim in the ocean! Keeps the sun at bay and does a little warming when the wind kicks up at sunset!
Caroline: Traveling. Hands down. I can wear FF to the airport and know that wherever I land, I am still going to look cool and not overheat or get too cold.
Free Fly's fabrics are softer than...
Caroline: Your favorite old tee.
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