Active Endeavors has been selling Outdoor Sports and Traveling equipment to the local Iowa City community since 1986 and continues to produce a lasting impression 27 years later.
By Levi Lynott
IOWA CITY, IA—
27 years ago, Mark Weaver was an educator and a coach, who wanted to own his own business. He had travelled during his summers as a teacher and gone on hikes in Colorado and other mountain states. Weaver was exposed to mountain shops and the equipment that was being used in those states by the local outdoor enthusiasts.
Those hiking experiences and the mountain shop culture gave him the inspiration to open an outdoor store that could resemble the Colorado outdoor culture, and 27 years later, Active Endeavors is still in business and operating at a successful rate. Weaver, who sat down for an interview last week, still notes that those hiking experiences gave him the insight to take that mentality back to the Midwest to make a shop of his own.
“I was fortunate because I had travelled and been to all the mountain states and I was aware of all those kinds of [product] lines. And once we started [establishing Active Endeavors] those kinds of lines sought us out.”
Located at 138 S. Clinton Street, Active Endeavors was the first company in Iowa to carry brands such as Mountain Hardwear, UGG boots, TOMS, Arc’teryx, and EXOFICIO just to name a few. The store ranges in appropriation of products. Ray-Ban casual sunglasses are on display, as well as Nike running shoes and active wear, but the store also delves into more uncommon grounds with brands such as MSR, also known as Cascade Designs, which usually used for camping, SUUNTO watches, and Eagle Creek travel luggage.
Tyler Nemmers, a senior at the University of Iowa has worked at Active Endeavors since the fall of 2011. Nemmers believes that the store is unparalleled locally.
“It’s unique, there isn’t anything like it,” said Nemmers. “It’s downtown, established, locally owned, has product that no one else in the area has.”
Nemmers, the outdoor enthusiast, added, “We have this awesome vibe of yoga, climbing and a back country feel that a lot of bigger stores don’t necessarily have.”
Matt Eickelschulte, a long-time Iowa City native who loves hunting and the outdoors, noted the expertise that Active Endeavors resembles through both the products presented at the store, as well as the staff’s knowledge of product capabilities.
My dad got me into [the store] when I was young and as I got older I researched the store’s brands and sustainability stuck out,” said Eickelschulte. “It’s a more personal experience and you get to support the local business.”
Maddie Kelleher, a current employee and native of Mount Vernon, Ia., transferred to the University of Iowa in 2011 after attending Arizona State University her freshman year.
“I didn’t have too many friends [in Iowa City] and this is where I’ve made all my best Iowa City friends,” Kelleher said. “It’s like a community and a family here.”
Active Endeavors is a participating store for a local-supportive spending group promoted by Hills Bank, known as “Shop Locally.” The group is designed to promote mutual spending for local stores, which often times are exclusive to the state of Iowa stores. The participating stores emphasize a strong customer service and backing their own products. The mission of “Shop Locally” is essentially to grow the local economy, which in turn makes the local area more desirable.
The quality of Active Endeavors has grown and improved over the years, and some of that may be due to two brothers who also manage the store on a daily basis. Dave Nerad has worked at Active Endeavors for fifteen years and Brian has now hit nine years of employment at the Active Endeavors. The eldest of the two brothers, Dave, believes that the shop stands out because of its versatility and the vast array of activities that Active Endeavors is capable of providing to.
“Just holding to the core beliefs of how to end-open the store [has kept Active Endeavors successful].” Dave Nerad said. “There’s so many good reasons to move away from the gear floor, but at the same time it’s what draws people in and authenticates the store as well.”
Over 27 years the shop has lasted with the insight and determination of Mark Weaver, fun and smart employees, loyal customers, and a long list of shopping categories to choose from.
“It’s been a great ride,” Weaver said. “We’ve always been so fortunate because we’ve had really, really, good people all the way through [the years].”
Weaver doesn’t seem to have any big plans for the future of the store, but remains optimistic about it’s success.
“I see Active Endeavors being here a long time,” said Weaver. “It’s been here for 27 years and I don’t see why it can’t be here another 27 years.”