Chris Kelly, owner of Topanga Creek Outpost, went to the 2018 Emerald Expo and came home with an award. Not just any award, or even their first, but a coveted Interbike Retailer Innovation Award.
“The award is meaningful for us,” Kelly says, “because we have made a concerted effort to engage people outside of simple retail transactions. We recognize the value of experience and have doubled down on creating an environment that provides something not available or delivered in a box.”
The Outpost staff go on bike-packing adventures, themselves, and enjoy being part of getting people on adventures, taking trips, and exploring.
“We have Adventure bikes ready at all times so when people show up they can be completely outfitted for a bike-packing trip with tents, pads, sleeping bags, and bikes,” Kelly says.
The Outpost, however, has another innovative retailing twist that may have contributed to this award. In 2015, full-time leather craftsman Andrew Gould was losing sales to Amazon and internet box stores. To combat that, the Outpost developed Rogue Journeymen leather goods as a house brand.
According to Kelly, they started making small key chains and putting initials on leather saddles. Now, RJ has grown into a full-fledged brand with a variety of leather, canvas, and Pendleton Wool products.
“We hand-make belts, bags, wallets, notebook covers, and lots of custom requests at our leathercrafting workbench set up inside the shop,” says Kelly. “Our leather goods are unique, and we are proud to make something in the U.S. We use canvas left over from army tents, leather scraps left from large runs, and Pendleton Wool pieces that would otherwise be discarded.
“Making new products in Topanga does so much good for so many reasons including re-use, re-purpose, and a positive answer to trade wars.
Rogue Journeymen is now wholesaling Rogue Journeymen goods that are sold in Brooklyn, NY, Phoenix, AZ, Omaha, NE, San Pedro, CA, and soon in Portland, OR.
“It was really significant to be recognized by the bicycle industry because change is difficult. We have had our detractors and been made fun of. Being awarded for our focus on change and innovation is a statement to us that, at least, trying to adapt was the right answer. We appreciate the positive look in our direction from so many people we respect and are honored to be included, Kelly said.”
TCO’s website, topangacreekoutpost.com, is a great read and visually enticing.