When Jimmy Funkhouser, the owner of Feral Mountain Co., an independent shop that won our Best Outdoor-Gear Store award in the Best of Denver 2018, learned that the store's home at 4320 Tennyson Street, in the Berkeley neighborhood, would soon be demolished to make way for a new condo development, he decided not to dwell on the negative. Instead, he started a crowdfunding campaign that would help move Feral into a historic building several blocks away.
The campaign, which launched today, September 6, has a goal of raising $95,000. The money would go toward the buildout of a new Feral store in the Flesher-Hinton building, an old theater at 3936 Tennyson that housed Flesher-Hinton Music Co. until 2015. At about 4,500 square feet, it would be a big upgrade from Feral's current 700-square-foot bungalow.
"We wanted to take what is a really negative situation — losing our building — and try to twist it into something that could be something really positive and exciting for us and our community," Funkhouser says.
Funkhouser is already working on permits and architectural plans for the new space, in hopes of moving swiftly once the crowdfunding campaign concludes. Utilities could be shut off at the current space any day, he says, at which point Feral would have to leave immediately...and he'll want to have the new leased location ready as soon as possible.
The move to much more space would give Feral an opportunity to compete with the big outdoor chains. "We've kind of been looking toward the future and trying to find a way to truly build an outdoor-gear shop that's locally owned and independent but also legitimately stands up to some of the more corporate retail chains," Funkhouser says.
He acknowledges that everyone knows someone who, at one point or another, has launched a frivolous crowdfunding campaign. But other avenues of funding, such as getting a loan from a bank or hitting up a rich relative, just didn't make sense for Feral. "It feels on-brand for us to do it this way rather than seeking other options," Funkhouser explains.
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Contributors to the campaign will receive gift cards, discounts, limited-edition T-shirts, stickers and more. Donate $200, for example, and you'll get a 20 percent discount on all purchases...for life.
By supporting the campaign, he notes, you'll also be supporting the neighborhood, long a place of small, independent businesses.
For starters, Feral hopes to restore the iconic neon sign out front, with just a few changes to the wording.
"It's something people in this neighborhood really care about," he says. "With this project, it's an opportunity to bring it back to life."