Suzanne Roig
The Bulletin

What: The Gear Fix

Employees: 24

Address: 550 SW Industrial Way, Bend

Website: www.gearfix.com

When Joshua Sims was younger, he thought repairing boats in a small shop in Bend would be his life’s work.

An avid waterman, Sims never envisioned that he’d become a landlubber businessman employing a team of workers who make a living from selling used outdoor equipment and clothes. As the owner of The Gear Fix, a 7,000-square-foot shop at the Box Factory, the 36-year-old Sims sees his shop as a community resource.

“We haven’t ever advertised,” Sims said. “And I’m able to help the community out with sponsorships.”

A steady stream of customers came to buy and sell last week while the cobbler soled a pair of hikingboots, the seamstress ripped out a stuck zipper and the bicycle mechanic examined the gears on a bike.

It’s an environment that Sims has created from his vision of reusing outdoor gear and providing a place where people can consign their unwanted items. He makes anywhere from 30% to 60% on consigned items, he said. For the past dozen years The Gear Fix has been in business, he has seen it grow by 20% to 30% each year. Last year revenues totaled $2.1 million.

Sims started in a small shop on NW Lava Road, later moved to SW Century Drive and in 2015 leased the current location at the Box Factory. With each move Sims said he has adjusted his business model by considering what gear sells, what not to take on consignment and how to pump up the repair side of the business.

“We don’t sell guns,” Sims said. “We are primarily outdoor gear and not sporting goods. We used to sell ­football, but we’ve learned that we have to refine what we take.”

Sims talked with The Bulletin about reselling used outdoor equipment. His responses have been edited.

Q: Can you describe the concept behind Gear Fix?

A: The main concept is to keep outdoor gear going for as long as possible. We do that through consignment and through our various repair services. We have a full team of sewers that fix backpacks, jackets and anything with zippers. A full team of shoe cobblers who resole boots and climbing shoes and other outdoor footwear. And we have bike mechanics and ski techs.

Q: What percentage of your business comes from consignment and what percentage comes from repair?

A: Right now, the consignment is the primary business, and that’s been slowly evolving. Our service and repair shops are getting busier and represent about 25% of the business. Consignment and retail is the rest.

Q: How do you know what to take on consignment?

A: We decided not to do sporting goods anymore. We dialed things back because of space constraints. We constantly have to reevaluate the quality of the items we take and the type of items. We decided to stick with where the dollars were going.

Q: What do most customers come to the store looking for?

A: Skis and bikes are our biggest sales. The winter is our busiest time of the year for everything in the shop. Repairs on skis and winter jackets. For winter stuff you need more items than summer. Skis, bikes and backpacking and camping gear are our biggest sellers.

Q: What do you like about your business?

A: I really like about this business that we can provide full health insurance for all of our staff, and we’re able to employ people in year-round work. Also it’s allowed us to do a lot with the community and become a hub for like-minded people. For me I really feel an affinity for the repair shops; that was supposed to be the original business concept.

— Reporter: 541-633-2117, sroig@bendbulletin.com

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