Not only does Feathered Friends, the Seattle, Washington, gear institution, offer their own brand of quality down products, but they also run a serious climbing and mountain shop. What sets Feathered Friends apart is their whole-enchilada mentality. As the general manager Brent Zwiers says, “You can walk in here in jeans and a T-shirt and walk out ready to climb any mountain in the world.”
Feathered Friends the brand began in 1972 with Peter and Carol Hickner, though the retail shop did not officially open until the 1988. Despite being across the street from the outdoors megastore REI, the newly expanded Feathered Friends has found a solid customer base in everyone from first-time backpackers to alpinists and core climbers. Below, a few questions with Zwiers.
Do you have a lot of climbers on staff? We do have a lot of local climbers, but we try to hire people who have experience in all areas, not just people who are guides. If all you have are guides and hardcore climbers, it can be intimidating for customers. We look to hire good people, people who are enthusiastic about the outdoors and helping others get the gear they need to have an enjoyable experience.
Who comes to your Feathered Friends? We try to cater to everybody. Certainly there are a lot of alpinists and aspiring alpinists, but there are also a lot of people who need a baselayer because they’re going backpacking.
What role does your shop play in the local community? During the non-summer climbing season, October through April, we do two to three slideshows a month. Also, guide companies come in and do their [avalanche] classes. We’ve raised a lot of money for the Index Fund. [In 2009, the Access Fund helped a local climbing org in Washington acquire the Lower Town Wall crag at Index. The acquisition is still being paid off.] We’re pretty actively involved in access, because if we don’t have the outdoors, none of us stay in business.
CONTACT:featheredfriends.com 206-292-2210 119 Yale Avenue North, Seattle, WA 98109