“Outdoors is for everyone.” This is the mantra of Quest Outdoors, a trio of locally owned and operated outdoors stores serving Louisville since 1983. The Quest mission is simple: “Help the great people of Louisville and Southern Indiana fulfill their quest to enjoy the great outdoors.”

And help the local folk they certainly do.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Five minutes after opening on Cyber Monday, the place is bustling.

THE CUSTOMER

There is a misconception that you have to be an experienced outdoorsman, an elite athlete or a burly mountain climber to shop at Quest. That is simply untrue. Most customers are just normal people living normal lives. Here are some scenarios of a typical shopper at Quest:

  • It’s 20 degrees with a windchill of zero. You have to get through another polar vortex, and you had an underperforming coat last year.
  • You’re going camping. You have not slept in a sleeping bag in 20 years, much less packed for a camping trip weekend.
  • You want to start hiking, but all you have to wear are tennis shoes and jeans.
  • You need a hat. Not a hat you pick up at the checkout aisle at the grocery store, but a hat that really works to keep you warm.
  • You are ready to start kayaking seriously on Harrods Creek or out at the Parklands of Floyds Fork and are tired of renting all your gear.
  • You are going skiing soon.
  • You need a gift for a woman who loves yoga.
  • You want a community of people with similar interests and hobbies.

Sure, mountain climbers and serious outdoorsmen shop here, too. But as owner Ryan King puts it, people need clothes for when they are watching their kids’ weekend sports games outside. This is their typical customer.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Even if you can’t climb the mountain, you can wear the T-shirt.

Quest has the distinction of being experts on all-things-outdoor here in Louisville. Their inventory is of the highest quality, and all the store employees are familiar with every bit of it. They help customers make decisions about what to buy and guide them through the purchase process.

Here’s just a sample of what’s available at Quest Outdoors:

THE GEAR

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Serious sleeping bags … so nice that each of them has their own hanger so that you can feel and touch all of them.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Every kind of backpack in every size, for everything from a small hike to a weekend trip

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Specialized books

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Quest has your feet covered, from Uggs to slippers to trail running shoes.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

A hanging recliner is a “must have” for my camping trip.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

All sorts of kayaks, paddleboats and anything that floats is hanging from the ceiling at Quest Outdoors.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Barbour: The gold standard

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Outerwear in a rainbow of colors

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Even babies have options that are both warm and stylish.

SECRET OF THEIR SUCCESS

Business owners know that their inventory is meaningless without the right people to sell it. Ryan King attributes Quest’s success to his employees, whom he considers family. They all have this in common: a passion for their job and a passion to teach others about the outdoors. It is this passion that keeps their turnover rate low and their customer service at superior levels. When the employees are vested emotionally in the company and are respected, everyone succeeds. They all have different strengths and are used accordingly. Whether that strength be camping gear, mountain climbing knowledge or women’s clothing, all of the inventory has been tested and researched by Quest.

It is this level of knowledge and expertise that turns visitors into lifelong Quest customers. They respect and utilize this knowledge as they purchase gear, plan trips and buy winter wardrobe items. If you want to know the best kayak or the warmest coat, ask someone at Quest. They’ll know, and they’ll give you an honest answer.

Customers and employees all sharing a common vision … this creates the community that is Quest. And it’s much more than just a store. Look around at the pictures of group excursions or check out their website to see customer and employee profiles and opinions to see this phenomenon at work. Customers and employees all share travel experiences, current interests and future event planning together. They call this Quest Nation.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Quest Nation trip

It is this commitment by the employees and the customers that has helped Quest through tough times. As is the case with any business that has been around since 1983, every year is not perfect.

In fact, the worst years are the warm ones. “Warm winters are hell,” says King. Those are atypical words uttered by any Louisvillian. But the polar vortex means big business for them. If it’s too warm to bundle up, that means Quest is losing its cash flow, and rapidly. A few years back, in 2011, it was a bad year for Quest for this very reason. And 2013 was a banner year, with days upon days of temperatures hovering around 0 degrees. Louisvillians were figuring out that their winter wardrobe did not suffice, and they headed over to the experts at Quest for help.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

The fuzzy zip pullover, otherwise known as “fuzzy money,” is the top seller at Quest.

Quest was hurt by the opening of Galyan’s in 1999 (they have since closed) and by the opening of Cabela’s in the spring of 2013. King claims that their sales have returned and stabilized since Cabela’s opening, mainly due to Louisville’s commitment to their local businesses.

Despite the normal dips in their progress, Quest is firing on all cylinders in all of its locations. Its dedication to Louisville and Louisvillians is the reason for this success.

LOCATIONS

Quest has four stores. I know that you are thinking: no, they just have three. However, they count their new and improved online store as one, as well.

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Quest Outdoors locations include:

  1. St. Matthews at 4600 Shelbyville Rd. (502-290-4589): located in the retail corridor near the Mall St. Matthews in St. Matthews Station (near Nordstrom Rack and Trader Joe’s)
  2. The Summit at 4340 Summit Plaza Dr. (502-326-0424): located near Office Depot
  3. Frankfort Avenue at 2330 Frankfort Ave. (502-893-5746): The Trails End Outlet, where you’ll find clearance and consignment items
  4. Online store: questoutdoors.com

What’s next for Quest Outdoors? Right now, they are interested in maintaining all three of their locations and increasing their online business. They continue to grow organically, and are constantly engaged in the local community. While they might look like a national store with such a wide range of inventory, they keep it personal with relationships with customers, as well as their employees.

Cheers to you Quest Outdoors! We all raise a thermos to that!

Quest: Guiding us Outdoors for 30 years

Cheers!

 

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