/ The Climbers Shop & Joe Browns Big History
With The Climbers Shop celebrating it's 60th anniversary this year, we thought we'd write a little history.....it turned out a bit longer (and rather more interesting) than we thought.
Gear shops have always played a very important part in the lives of climbers and hillwalkers. The Joe Brown shops in Snowdonia and The Climbers Shop in Ambleside are proud to uphold the good old fashioned retailing legacy of our original owners; not just a place of work where we make our living but thriving social hubs, welcoming customers into an environment where they can talk about what they have been up to, discuss their favourite piece of kit, glean advice and meet like-minded people. Many of our customers tell us of their great memories linked to our shops interwoven with trips, gear and talking about getting out and doing what they love – today, it’s just the same. It’s just our Aladdin’s caves have even more gear to choose from.
Climbing has never been a mainstream sport, so it’s hardly surprising that the original owners of our shops, Frank Davies and Val and Joe Brown’s, paths crossed over the years but just how important both businesses were to the other is a story only recently discovered. Much is known of Joe Brown and his climbing exploits but the story behind how both The Climbers Shop and the Joe Browns shops have become and maintained their place as iconic specialist independent shops is a tale that belongs to two lesser known individuals, that of Frank and Val respectively.
...and the story continues, read the full story here:
Thank you for that. Most interesting being, as it is, the story of my life. I started climbing in 1965 having been hill walking with my Dad and with school since the mid fifties. When I came of (shopping) age Frank's was the place to go, bar none (the shop in Keswick (the name has angling connotations!) just wasn't the same. Apart from anything else one was served, if one was lucky, by the lovely Veronica, who, incidentally, married one of my close friends in the seventies - I put my Minivan through a wall trying to get back to Langdale following his stag night on the eve of their wedding in Ambleside!). I heard from her as recently as a couple of years ago.
Memorable early purchases were my Black's Icelandic sleeping bag, Whillans Alpiniste rucksack, Terray Fitzroy "big" boots, Hawkins Masters rock shoes (black mark for the shop - should have talked me out of them and into PAs), 20 foot hemp waistline and a big steel screwgate to tie on with. Later it's where I sourced my first new rope (Edelrid), first harness as opposed to waist line or waist belt (Whillans of course), first peg hammer (Stubai - still have it), first ice axe (McInness Massey), first Goretex jacket (Sprayway) ad inf.
I hadn't till I read this realised how long ago the tie up with Joe Brown's began. Being very parochial in the sixties we never went to N Wales, or even The Peak District - for us it was The Lakes, Yorkshire Limestone and the Lancashire quarries in that order, so it wasn't until the early seventies I began to spend time in Llanberis. Oddly, my most memorable purchase from Joe's at that time is my coveted copy of "Samson", Wilf Noyce's tribute to John Menlove Edwards.
So thanks again for calling all that to mind, and for being at the forefront of outdoor retailing when the boom began and even earlier. One thing, if I may make a small criticism: it's very annoying when researching product purchases on-line, to find an early Google entry suggesting whatever it is is available from The Climber's Shop at a most advantageous price, only to click through to find the legend in red "This item is no longer available". It's a very very frequent phenomenon. Is it possible to minimise it in some way?
Thanks again and very best wishes