Wildcat Basin Outfitters is a new outdoor, athletic and camping equipment specialty store in John Day owned and operated by Kara Uhler.
Located in the Madden Brothers Business and Education Center at 116 NW Bridge St., Suite 11, in John Day, the store is filled to the brim with a wide range of gear for outdoor activities, including hunting, camping, hiking, exercise and more.
Uhler said her husband, Pete, has been helpful in her venture, and the community has been supportive since she opened in July.
“Everyone who’s come in so far has loved it,” she said.
She said her goal is to encourage fun, family-oriented healthy lifestyles and activities.
Uhler has lived in John Day for 22 years and has also spent 22 years in emergency medical services, including time as a paramedic, and is still active as a trainer. She was also a firefighter in the past.
“With my background as a wildland firefighter and paramedic, I’ve always loved the outdoors, and with that background I have an idea of things needed here locally,” she said.
“I’ve always felt our community needed something geared toward this lifestyle,” Uhler said. “It all blends in with our interests.”
Items for camping and hiking include not only backpacks, sleeping bags, pads and tents, but also hydration systems (such as Platypus), waterproof luggage bags, child carriers, paddle boards, hammocks, pillows and headlamps.
She said the items she brings in are built to last.
“They are quality products, rather than something you would have to replace in a year,” she said.
Customers will also find specialty items such as the Jet Boil system to heat water for coffee or making a meal, waterproof VSSL flashlights that include a compass and first-aid kit, emergency food supplies, water purification systems and even lighters that work in windy conditions.
Uhler carries the La Sportiva brand for athletic needs, including running shoes, an assortment of Darn Tough socks, and exercise clothing. She said she’ll include Columbia brand clothing in the next few months and more brands next spring.
In addition to the shop, Uhler also offers first-aid/CPR classes for small groups, for the bystander or health care provider.
Classes are held in an OSU Extension classroom, with four to five in each class “to make it one-on-one and personable,” she said.
Her next goal is to hold seminars led by expert presenters on hiking and hunting.
Oaklee Clark, who is a Grant Union senior, joins Uhler a few hours each week for her work study program.
“I’m learning about independent business opportunities and all the work you have to put into it,” Clark said.
Uhler said there are no grants for new business owners, not until they’ve owned the business for three years and can prove they are financially stable.
“It’s all about a person taking that risk in making that jump and just doing it, but being very responsible and choosy about what things you bring in and how you’re going to spend that money,” she said. “Two and a half months in, it’s been wonderful.”
Uhler has plans to expand the offerings next year and hopes to have kayaks for sale and locator beacons for rent.
Currently, she’s poring over maps and visiting local trails to ensure correct directions are given to inquiring customers and that paths are well maintained.
“Come down and browse,” she said, adding they’re within walking distance of downtown.
“If you’re having lunch or dinner, walk over and take a peek,” she said. “We’re a calm, ‘chillaxed’ environment.”
Wildcat Basin Outfitters is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays.
For more information, call Uhler at 541-620-5780 or email her at email@example.com. The business website is wildcatbasinoutfitters.com.