Avid hikers, they had been exposed to the fever for about 12 years while visiting his folks who live in Sedona.
Once on the way to Phoenix to catch a flight home to Texas, they began to wonder.
“Why can’t we live somewhere beautiful like Sedona?” he said. “Over the next couple of weeks, we started filling legal pads with ideas about what we could do to sustain our family.”
They decided that since the whole family enjoyed hiking and that in Sedona there was not really a store that catered totally to hikers, it might be a good idea to start a business.
“We thought we could start something from scratch that was truly unique,” he said.
They came up with The Hike House, the idea of which was to give hikers everything they needed for a positive experience while in Sedona. It opened in September.
There are five elements to The Hike House, the first of which is finding the right trail for a particular hiker.
“After all those years of visiting, we were told there were only 10 hiking trails in Sedona,” he said. Over the years, the couple learned there were close to 220 trails in red rock country.
They put together a high definition program called “Sedona Trail Finder” that utilizes a plasma screen inside their business and matches a hiker’s ability and desires to the proper trail.
The hiking concierge asks about ability and desires, time, incline and difficulty, which help narrow down the number of trails available for the hiker.
“The final screen illustrates all the trails in Sedona matching that criteria,“ he said. “It is a precursor to a great hike. People don’t get sent to a place they don’t belong, so they don‘t find themselves in a precarious position. A six-year-old does not belong on Cathedral Rock.”
Next, there is preparedness gear and information and education around that gear, including water containers and shoes.
The Hike House offers a test track that gives feedback on what a trail will feel like underfoot, and which discourages flip flops and regular tennis shoes.
Then there is style, the portion of the gear for which Gracie is responsible.
“It’s where functionality meets fashion,” she said. “First and foremost, we wanted functionality that speaks to this climate, but at the same time, hiking with a sense of style.”
For the style Gracie looked toward fashion.
“What if Nordstrom went hiking? What would it look like?” she asked.
She works really hard to bring a sense of style to hiking, Greg explained.
Next is the Energy Cafe inside the store with a complete bakery inside that offers, among other things, muffins and Gracie’s signature Red Rock Trail Cookies, which are quite tasty.
“I’ve been eating them for 15 years so I’m a good judge of that,” Greg said.
The cafe’s smoothies are all natural and customers can make their own trail mix from 23 different bulk ingredients.
“We have a wide assortment of energy bars, protein bars and a coffee bar,“ he said.
Finally is the education element. A hiker can take a guided hiking adventure with noted hiker Dennis Andres, also known as Mr. Sedona. He has published more than five books, most about hiking. He has hiked 5,000 miles in the Sedona Red Rock area and on seven different continents.
Andres offers weekly hiking education clinics ranging from beginning to expert.
Other speakers come to talk about wilderness survival, the flora and fauna of the Red Rock area and a number of other topics relating to hiking.
The Hike House has become a hang out and hub for hikers either preparing for the trail or who just got back and want to hang out with other hikers.
“Our weather days, rain or snow, are some of our best sales days,” he said. “It is very unusual, but again, we are a place where hikers like to hang out with other hikers.”
He said Gracie is the face of the store.
“I told her, ‘I will build the store, but you will make the store successful,’” he said.
The couple’s children, Lauren, 12 and Olivia, 10, have adjusted beautifully to their new home. They love their school and the family does a hike together once a week, Greg said.
“I am a white collar escapee,” he said. He was a consultant for Willis of North American, the fourth largest consulting firm in the United States. “I worked in a glass cubicle, every moment wanting to break free.”
Every time he and his family left Sedona, it was always hard to go back to Texas.
“We would come up here and have such a great time with our family. We called it Red Rock Fever, and the only cure was staying,” he said. FBN
To learn more about The Hike House call 928-282-5820 or visit HYPERLINK “http://www.thehikehouse.com/”www.thehikehouse.com