Local retailers are ready to supply everything you need for a weekend in a snowy wonderland.
By Yankee Staff
Feb 01 2021
The wilderness appeal of New Hampshire’s White Mountains Region is undeniable. But luckily, its towns have a Main Street shopping scene that ensures whatever you didn’t pack for your visit — from outdoor gear to snacks and books — you can find at a local retailer.Photo Credit : John Anderson Photo/iStock
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Covering about a quarter of northern New Hampshire and edging into Maine, the White Mountains span hundreds of craggy peaks, up to and including the highest in the Northeast, mighty 6,288-foot Mount Washington. The thrilling beauty of this landscape is concentrated in the namesake White Mountains Region, which draws visitors year-round to bag summits, paddle down sinuous rivers, ski and snowshoe on backcountry trails, or just enjoy wandering through scenic mountain towns such as North Conway, Jackson, and Lincoln. And no matter whether your planned itinerary is pulse-pounding or laid-back, you’ll find many welcoming independent retailers stocked with all your travel needs.
Founded in 1985, Ragged Mountain Equipment in Intervale knows a thing or two about getting folks comfortably outdoors in the White Mountains. The clothing and manufacturing company fills its retail store with everything from cozy fleece jackets for both people and their four-legged traveling companions, to skis, backpacks, and maps to guide visitors to favorite trails.
Pre-Covid, the biggest concern for Ragged Mountain co-owners Rob Nadler and Cort Hansen was making sure they had the right inventory for customers’ needs and the best staff to help fulfill them. “And weather is always an issue, especially having enough snow for the winter season,” Nadler adds.
But overall, the region’s retail scene was doing well last winter, he says, and after the shutdown, business rebounded in the summer. Indeed, the White Mountains was one part of the country where people flocked during the pandemic to get their requisite dose of oxygen and serenity. “Covid brought a massive influx of tourists escaping the cities,” Nadler says.
As owners of a walk-in retail business, Nadler and Hansen responded swiftly to the safety needs posed by both the pandemic and the increase in visitors. They installed plastic shields, required masks to be worn at all time for customers and employees, provided hand sanitizer stations, and instituted extra cleaning procedures. Nadler notes that Janice Crawford of the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce was a great help in this effort, rallying local businesses to respond to visitor safety with PPE supplies and education on best practices.
With safety measures in place, Ragged Mountain’s in-store sales have been “way up,” Nadler says; meanwhile, the company’s newly revamped website has seen a surge in online sales. Yet arguably the most important gear that Ragged Mountain made during the pandemic were face masks and medical gowns desperately needed by the local community.
“We were fortunate to be able to start manufacturing them as soon as the pandemic hit,” says Nadler. To date, Ragged Mountain has made more than 25,000 fabric masks for hospitals, school systems, first responders, the U.S. Forest Service, and New Hampshire Fish & Game, as well as corporate customers and the general public. Plus, its reusable gowns have gone to places such as adult care facilities and dental offices.
Ragged Mountain is also one of the founding members of the 23-member White Mountain Independents, a group of locally owned and operated small businesses. As an alternative to “Black Friday” shopping last year, the White Mountain Independents created “Plaid Friday” as a “buy local” initiative. At Ragged Mountain, that meant all customers wearing plaid would receive a free fleece scarf. The promotion, he says, was a great success.
“We have definitely seen an increase in people that are buying local and telling us they want us to survive,” says Nadler, who says personal expressions of loyalty by customers is a recurring event at Ragged Mountain. “Where in the past, people might give lip service to ‘buy local,’ now they are buying local with purpose.”
For anyone looking to help keep the White Mountains Region in good economic health this winter, Nadler says, “the best thing you can do is shop the local stores — and if something is out of stock, ask if we can order it for you.”
And don’t forget, he adds: “Reviews and referrals are also most welcome!”
Thinking of planning a getaway to the White Mountains Region? Here is a sampling of locally owned businesses that are open and ready to welcome you! Find links to travel resources at visitnh.gov/seasonal-trips/getting-here.
Zeb’s General Store, North Conway
Stan and Dan Sports, North Conway
The Mountain Wanderer, Lincoln
Littleton Food Co-op, Littleton