When Christine Iksic sees someone rocking a sweat-soaked ball cap, a rucksack and muddy boots, she knows she’s found a kindred spirit.
That’s how the outdoor enthusiast met her friend and business partner Chris Kaminski, an avid hiker, rock climber and cyclist. Last month, the pair opened 3 Rivers Outdoor Company (3ROC) in Regent Square.
In addition to selling new and gently used gear and apparel, the store serves as an adventure planning station that will connect area nature nuts with their surroundings and each other. Fundraisers, camp outs, bike rides, kayaking trips and meet-ups hosted by local conservation organizations are in the works.
“We want to serve as a hub for the outdoor community,” says Kaminski, of Shaler. “We have a great selection of gear. But, more importantly we have the knowledge.”
Both of these native Pittsburghers left town for years at a time to trek through forests, climb mountains and paddle down raging rivers. When homesickness set in, they realized they could satisfy their wanderlust without straying too far from their favorite urban jungle.
From Allegheny Islands State Park, a 43-acre slice of heaven in Harmar Township, to the sprawling beauty of the Laurel Highlands, there are plenty of places for adrenaline junkies to get their fix.
Even the storefront, located on South Braddock Avenue, is just a short hike from Frick Park.
For years, Kaminski and Iksic talked about opening a consignment shop, but they weren’t sure if the market was right for such a business. Iksic, an Aspinwall resident, spent a recent summer visiting different outdoor retailers across the country to ask for advice and information.
To gauge local interest, the friends held two used gear festivals at the Ace Hotel and Schenley Plaza. The response was overwhelming, so they channeled that energy into opening a 2,700-square-foot space in this bustling business district.
Although shoppers will find items from well-known companies such as Patagonia and Black Diamond, 3ROC also specializes in other eco-conscious brands as well as locally sourced and niche market products and artwork.
Even the décor is repurposed from Mother Nature’s living room.
The sales counter is a segment of a large ginkgo. Wood salvaged from an Amish barn was converted into benches, and tree trunks that once stood in Frick Park now bear the weight of the building.
To showcase its wares (and its beautiful new digs), 3ROC will host a grand opening celebration June 1-3. The weekend-long event will feature live music, craft beer, food trucks, tutorials, children’s activities, a Fun Run and an outdoor screening of “A Year in the Wilderness,” a documentary about the 366 days explorers Dave and Amy Freeman spent in northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters.
The Freemans will host a book signing at the store the following week as they bike from Minnesota to Washington, D.C.
In the near future, Kaminski and Iksic plan to rent bicycles and stand-up paddleboards, and also partner with more nonprofits that share their enthusiasm for the great outdoors. On certain days, a portion of the store’s earnings will be donated to these organizations.
“We hope Pittsburghers believe in shopping local,” Iksic says. “We opened with the purpose of serving our community.”