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Summit Hut helps loyal customers reach new heights for a half century

Posted: 2:28 PM, Jun 17, 2019
Updated: 2019-06-17 19:10:44-04
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TUCSON, Ariz. — Southern Arizona is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts. For 50-years, Summit Hut has been the perfect place to gear up for outdoor adventures.

This long-time Tucson business was actually by a pair of teenagers who spent a cold night camping in the Calatina Mountains.

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"They decided to start a company and called is Summit Hut that one night," explained current co-owner Dana Davis.

Dave Baker and Jeff Conn figured they could get gear for a lot less money if they had their own company.

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"They sold gear to their friends and stored the gear under their beds," said Davis. "That was the humble beginnings of the Summit Hut."

The business partners typed up their own catalog to help customers find the exact gear they needed, complete with hand-made drawings.

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Dave eventually bought out his friend Jeff for 40-bucks. That was half the cost of their inventory at the time.

He then opened a 150-square foot store across from his Catalina High School.

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That was 1969, and it is the 50th anniversary Summit Hut is celebrating this summer.

Dana and her husband Jeremy are now the owners Summit Hut, after both being long-time employees.

Dana, a skydiving instructor, started working for Dave at summit hut in 1998. She thought it would be a temporary job.

"I just grew in love with it, the passion for the outdoors. I love working with customers to see where they're going and getting them the things that they need."

It was a seamless transition in 2011, as Dave sold Summit Hut to Dana and Jeremy, and went into retirement.

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The Davis' carry on the tradition of local ownership, great products, and giving back to the community.

They donate to local charities a nickle for every bag customers don't take.

Summit Hut has a very loyal and dedicated staff, with some of them working at one of the two locations for 20 years or more.

They too give back by volunteering for outdoor charities.

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"We ended up doing out hundred days of service, where our staff get paid their regular wages," said Davis. "They get to go out into the community and give back to Tucson."

The heart of Summit Hut are the clothes, the gear, the socks, the shoes and the luggage Tucsonans need.

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Like any local small business, Summit Hut faces challenges from online retailers and national chains, but they have been able to keep up with the changing times.

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"It's just going to be exciting to see if this many changes have happened in the last 20 years, see what the next 20 have to bring."

The next 20 years of outdoor adventures will likely begin with a trip to Summit Hut.

Absolutely Arizona

Absolutely Arizona with Pat Parris

Pat Parris takes us on an adventure, in our own backyard. From historic sights to behold, to absolutely amazing local creations. Experience everything Southern Arizona has to offer. Email Pat at pat.parris@kgun9.com with your suggestions for future places we should feature!