Nature lovers gather to swap outdoor equipment

by Nathan Whalen

Spring fever was running high Thursday during the first day of the Outdoor Store’s 16th annual Bike and Camping Gear Swap.
By 10 a.m., more than 100 outdoor enthusiasts bought bicycles, backpacks, outdoor clothes and tents — one hour after the three-day event started.
Equipment for the swap is donated; the prices are set by people who provided the equipment. Some bicycle retailers provided last year’s models at close-out prices. The Outdoor Store, in the St. Paul Student Center, provided most of the camping equipment.
University law student Tracy Holms, who bought two bikes from the event, said she attends the swap every year.
Most of the money earned during the event goes back to the people who donate. The sponsors take 18 percent of the selling price to cover the cost of putting on the event.
“This event benefits the community,” said Susan Shroyer, manager of the St. Paul Outdoor Store. The Swap is open to the public and many families attend in hopes of taking home good equipment at low prices.
The sponsors of the event were optimistic of the event’s success as early numbers showed business had increased over last year. For example, 70 of the more than 200 bikes on sale had been sold by mid-afternoon Thursday.
Bike messenger Ellis Wangelin said he finds many bikes at the swap being sold below close-out prices at other stores.
“There are many great deals on these bikes,” Wangelin said.
Shroyer noted that she never sees the same combination of outdoor equipment twice at the annual event.
“We never know what we are going to get,” said Shroyer as she stood next to the display of basketballs and racquetball racquets the University Recreation Center provided to the swap.
This year, the Center for Outdoor Adventures put on a Bike Maintenance Clinic and a Touring and Commuting Clinic for the first time.
The swap is sponsored by the Outdoor Store, the Center for Outdoor Adventures and the St. Paul Student Center. Students, staff and people associated with the Center for Outdoor Adventures staff the event.
Due to the increased demand, selection at the swap will be limited as it continues on Friday and Saturday.