Volume 20, Number 43 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | March 9 - 15, 2011
Downtown Express photo by Aline Reynolds
Tents and Trails’ slogan is “We can outfit you for the Catskills to Katmandu.”
Tents and Trails carries gear for every excursion
BY Jhaneel Lockhart
Stop by Tents and Trails and there’s a chance you might become a customer for life.
Located on Park Place, where its green storefront stands out among the cacophony of buildings and awnings, Tents and Trails is an outdoor goods store, but over the years it has become a grab-bag for its patrons, who can expect to find anything from a sleeping bag to a banana holder on the store’s well-stocked shelves.
The three-floor store is packed floor to ceiling with outdoor gear and equipment for every situation possible.
“This is the kind of store you just stop in any time you get a chance because you never know what wonderful things you’ll find,” said one gentleman in the shop, who has been a customer since 1961. “Even if you have no idea you need it, you say ‘Oh my God. Look at that. I gotta get that.’ ”
He recalled a big blue torpedo that used to sit in front of the shop at its former location on Chambers Street, a nod to the business’ earlier days as a supplier of weapons and war surplus when it was founded over 50 years ago by Harry Lipman.
It is currently co-run by his daughers Jamie Abish and Heather Lipman, who grew up with the store and have watched it change over the decades.
Now, their store has a diverse clientele, which include more international customers, companies such as the Big Apple Circus, the Manhattan Trapeze School and Broadway productions; and big names such as the Bronx Zoo, the American Museum of Natural History and the Field Museum of Chicago.
“I attract everybody, from inner urban youth to Wall Streeters and I am not kidding, it’s definitely that kind of diversified crowd,” said Abish. “The Wall Streeters are going on expeditions or they’re doing fancy traveling. The inner urban kids, they’re looking for things that will really hold up […] They want boots that everybody in the crowd isn’t going to be wearing.”
Regardless of their needs, one thing keeps all her customers coming back: their knack for customer service, provided by a well-informed staff, whose experiences in the world of hiking make them uniquely qualified to answer customers’ questions.
“My staff has particular fortes. They know what they are talking about,” said Abish.
Several members of her 25-man staff have climbed the world’s highest mountain, including Kaji Sherpa, who previously held the world record in 1998 for climbing Mount Everest in 20 hours and 24 minutes.
Customers also turn to Tents and Trails for their diverse offerings of all sorts of gear, and on a busy day, the store can outfit up to 250 shoppers for their outdoor adventures.
“We can outfit you for the Catskills to Katmandu,” said Abish, quoting Tents and Trails’ slogan. “If you’re just going hiking in the Catskills, ordinary hiking… we can outfit you with some simple day packs and shoes, but if you’re going up to Kilamanjaro or Katmandu, which is the roof of the world … we can outfit you.”
Tents and Trails is located at 21 Park Place, New York, NY 10007 and is open Mon. –Wed., Sat. from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Thu. – Fri. from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sun. from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information call (212) 227-1760.