Asheville outdoor gear and consignment shop Second Gear to expand in River Arts District



Second Gear, the 16-year-old outdoor gear and consignment shop based in West Asheville, is expanding to 99 Riverside Dr. next year./ photo by Jason Sandford

Second Gear, Asheville’s 16-year-old outdoor gear and consignment shop, is expanding to the River Arts District.

Shop owner and founder Russ Towers says he has signed a lease to move into the big building at 99 Riverside Dr., next to the Cotton Mill Studios collection of artist studios and Asheville Guitar Bar. Work to renovate the building should begin soon, with plans to open there in spring 2021.

Second Gear will remain open at its West Asheville location until the transition is complete.

In the new space, Towers will grow from 4,000 to 10,000 square feet of space for the collection of camping gear, climbing gear, shoes and apparel that he sells. Asheville Adventure Company will occupy part of the building for its biking, paddling and hiking tour business. The building will also feature a cafe with grab-and-go foods and beverages by Sugar and Snow Gelato in Asheville.

The long, gray building at 99 Riverside Dr. was most recently home to another local business, Old Wood Company. Darren Green, founder of Old Wood and owner of the building, closed his business there earlier this year. (And in a local twist, it was Towers who sold Green that Riverside building several years ago when Towers was actively involved in the commercial real estate business.)

Towers opened Second Gear  at 415 Haywood Road in West Asheville back in 2004. He moved it four years later to the historic Mardis Building nearby at 444 Haywood Road after her purchased and restored that building. (Second Gear opened a downtown Asheville location in 2012, and closed that Walnut Street spot two years later.)

He told me last week that he sees the River Arts District now as quite similar to West Asheville 15 years – on the cusp of a growth boom. The new location will allow Second Gear room to grow over the next 15 years or so, he says.

Second Gear gives consigners the ability to get paid for selling their used bicycles, kayaks, outdoor clothing and hiking boots. The shop also sells dealer samples, as well as some new stuff, such as maps and guidebooks.

Second Gear sold $1 million worth of gear and clothing in 2019, according to a February 2020 story by Jack Igelman posted to the Second Gear website. It was the first time in the store’s lifespan that revenue surpassed the seven-figure mark, according to that story. Second Gear has paid $4 million in consignment fees, and since the kickoff of a non-profit revenue sharing program in 2017, the shop has contributed nearly $40,000 to several dozen community organizations.

Towers says he’s grateful that despite the tough economic times brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, his business has been growing as more people seek outdoor activities.

Here’s a statement from a press release issued by Second Gear:

“We are thrilled to become part of the River Arts District while staying close to our West Asheville roots. The continued support Second Gear has received over the past 16 years has amounted to nearly 4 million dollars paid in consignment fees to over 10,000 consignors.

“We are grateful to have an opportunity to expand the business and can’t wait to see what 2021 has to offer!”