Vernon’s Richard Harley knows a thing or two about launching a business.
With the reintroduction of Valhalla Pure Outfitters to Vernon last Halloween, it is the 12th store that Harley has either renovated, relocated or opened since he joined the family-run chain in 1991.
Harley, the brother of David Harley, founder of both Valhalla and Far West Mountain Wear, said it made sense to bring the outfitter company back to where it all started more than two decades ago. Especially since they had continued to receive local interest through their online store.
“It (online presence) isn’t the same as having an actual store on the ground,” said Richard Harley, a skiing, hiking and cycling enthusiast.
“The Okanagan Valley has so many possibilities for outdoor recreation that a new Valhalla Pure Outfitters seemed a necessity.”
The Harleys have a long history of retailing in the Vernon area, starting with father, Norm, who opened his first Harley’s Fabric Centre at 31st and 31st (currently Vernon Lock and Safe) in 1958.
The original Valhalla opened in the same downtown Vernon location in 1990 before it moved to a bigger building on 24th Street in 2003. It operated there until the business was sold in 2007.
The new owners relocated to Anderson Way in 2009, eventually rebranding under the True Outdoors banner.
Seeing an opportunity to relaunch the Valhalla name in Vernon, Richard set up shop in a 633-square-foot building along 48th Avenue, across from the Village Green Centre, with a grand opening Oct. 31.
“It’ll be fun on our anniversary dates,” laughed Richard, who also owns outlets in Victoria, Vancouver and Courtenay. “It’s just the way it worked.
“There’s parking, it’s visible, it’s on a busy street. We’re on the route; everybody’s got to drive by as they head up to Silver Star.”
Like they’ve been doing since its inception, Valhalla offers high-end apparel, gear and footwear for pretty much every outdoor activity. From tents, GPS and backpacks to snowshoes, SUP boards and kayaks, they’ve got it covered.
In some ways, Richard said not much has changed in terms of product range. But in terms of materials and components, it’s a whole new world.
Whether it’s the latest breathable/water resistant hard shell jacket, or ultra-light carbon weave paddle, everything is being geared towards comfort and convenience.
“There’s been a lot of change, especially towards lighter weight,” said Richard. “When I was starting out, a good two-person tent was seven pounds and you were pretty happy about that. Now, you can find one for under three pounds.
“The packs are lighter, the gear is lighter and the prices are the same.”