With its rustic entrance and the sigh of its hands-free automatic doors, Public Lands beckons you into its vaulted foyer, where tactile wooden elements and well-placed skylights heighten the general camp vibes and brighten the space.
And to start exploring the 50,000 square feet, it’s best to view each store department as its own entity. Though friendly staff (referred to as Guides) are ready to point you in the right direction, it’s best to approach Public Lands not as a single store, but as a collection of eight specialty shops. “We try to look at each department as its own unique, independent shop,” says Clare Clark, the store’s Education Lead, “such as ‘the bike shop’ the ‘fish and tackle shop’ or the ‘camp shop.’” There, Clark points out, is where a given shop’s enthusiast Guides can lean into their expert knowledge, enabling them to connect with guest explorers on a deeper, personalized level.
What’s the feeling of the sum of those shops’ parts? Entering a slower pace of life where there’s the opportunity to ask silly questions—where you can engage with a larger community of other active adventurers that share your passions. "Getting into outdoor spaces can be intimidating, especially if you're new to an activity," adds Clark, "we do our best to make anyone and everyone feel comfortable and welcomed."
Classes & Events
To start, the store’s staff curates classes and events each week seeking to highlight a different shop in the store. “I love planning classes and events to inspire outreach and engagement in our community,” Clark says of the free, hands-on classes that range from preparing to hike the Appalachian Trail to fly tying, orienteering, and sunrise yoga, to tuning your skis or snowboard. "We try to accommodate a variety of skill levels from beginner to expert," she adds, "so that everyone has a chance to participate and get outdoors."
Also on offer are information sessions with brand ambassadors who can explain the intricacies and out-there applications of their company's product(s), answer questions, and generally encourage participants to better utilize gear items they may be unfamiliar with.
Additionally, offsite meetups are available and generally combine an activity (such as hiking a portion of trail) with a cleanup or stewardship opportunity (say, cleaning the trail as you hike).