Five On Friday: Interview with the Owner, Geoff Brugler

by Jacob Gordon

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Appalachian Outdoors, you’ve read about our history and our General Manager, but now it’s time to hear from the man who started it all: Geoff Brugler.

But it’s also Friday, a day when we do our Five on Friday’s, so what’s to be done? Dedicating this entry to the big man himself, of course!


This FoF features two parts: five questions directed at Geoff to speak about the history and lessons of the store, and five Lightning Round questions.

1. When you read or hear that your business, Appalachian Outdoors, turned 40 years old this month, what goes through your head? What does that feel like?

Geoff: Well it certainly seems to have gone by pretty quickly. It’s sort of like raising a child, and the years go by much faster than you’d think. When I look back on the early days, it was almost like another lifetime — like it happened to somebody else. I think of all the memories and hard work that have gone on the last 40 years, and it’s just amazing. I feel very blessed for how things have ended up, and if you believe things happen for a reason — well, I guess this was meant to be.


2. What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from the store in the past 40 years?

Geoff: That’s a tough one. Well, it’s a constant learning process; that’s one of the joys of this. If you like to learn, if you like to be challenged this shop will do it. But you also realize the value of teamwork and curiosity. The value of doing things differently to move ahead.

3. What is your favorite part about owning this store?

Geoff: The most enjoyable part of the business is the customers. Seeing people that you know by first name and spending some time talking with them. You really get to know each customer a little bit just by talking and sharing some laughs and ideas. Just catching up with people is nice. And seeing people enjoy coming in here. It’s really great.


4. When people think of Appalachian Outdoors — when they talk about it to friends, family members, or anyone else — what do you hope they say? What do you want people thinking of when they think of Appalachian Outdoors.

Geoff: I like to think we are in the dream fulfillment business. I hope they feel they’re going to come into a business that has a pretty good reputation because of our integrity and knowledge. They can shop here with confidence. They’ll have somebody help them that is well educated and trained. Somebody, most importantly, who actually cares about the outcome of the customer’s adventure, not the sale. So I think they’ll feel like they’ve been treated fairly, and they’ve had a better experience than other places. They’ll feel like they can walk out and have a great experience and come back.

5. How do you see Appalachian Outdoors fitting in with the Penn State and State College communities?

Geoff: Since the Penn State audience is pretty young, they’re really active and away from home. Maybe they’re missing some of their roots, so they connect with us through the outdoors. They have a place where they can come and be a part of the wider outdoor community.

As far as the local community, it’s a very small town we’re a part of. We hire a lot of people from State College, and we’re also involved with a lot of community organizations.

You know, it’s only from talking to people in bigger areas and communities when you realize they don’t have that in some places. We can walk down the street and see people you know. There’s something special about that.

Lightning Round

1. What’s your favorite spring activity?

Geoff: Mountain biking

2. What’s your favorite winter activity?

Geoff: Cross country skiing

3. Which do you like more? Pick one!

Geoff: Hah! Cross country skiing, definitely.

4. Your favorite product?

Geoff: My hiking boots. The Asolo 520s.

5. Favorite Appalachian Outdoors event?

Geoff: Ladies’ Night. It has a good feel. There’s a lot of good energy. I like that we can provide a really nice venue with food and prizes. There’s always a lot of camaraderie and a fun.

***For more on Geoff’s take of business and how it’s changed. Check out the video below!***

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