Spot the Shop: Take a Hike finds success in business and family
John McFerrin loves the outdoors. So much so that he opened his own outdoors store.
McFerrin moved to Black Mountain from Arkansas in 1986 and eventually opened Take a Hike Mountain Outfitters in his new home in April 1999.
“I always loved hiking and camping and I started in the early to mid-‘70s backpacking and learning about this stuff and it sort of became a hobby and then a passion,” McFerrin said. “I ended up one day just taking the jump to see if I could do my own store and never looked back from there.”
Prior to opening his own store, McFerrin said he was working for a similar outfitter in Asheville where he specialized and ran the shoe department. He described himself as a “footwear geek.”
“That sort of got me hooked on being a specialty outdoor footwear guy,” McFerrin said. “I’m sort of a fit geek. I have a knack for fitting different types of feet with the proper shoes and then in the right size. My first love is outdoor footwear.”
McFerrin said he is proud that his store is successful, especially after surviving the 2008 recession.
Still, McFerrin said, there are struggles that come with owning a business.
He said he likes being his own boss and making his own schedule, but he is finding it harder, especially in recent years, to staff Take a Hike.
“I’m working a lot right now,” McFerrin said. “Probably more than I ever have, and I have to remind myself that when I’m not in the store, I’m out doing what I love, which is hiking and camping and it just sort of keeps me grounded and balanced.”
McFerrin said it is difficult not being able to see too far in the future when it comes to staffing and the economy, or whether or not he’ll even get a paycheck, but he still loves being a business owner.
Though he said he has thought about expanding in the past, he is not particularly interested.
“I’m pretty content,” McFerrin said. “This is our only location, and I’ve thought about expanding into other areas, but I just feel like this is just such a good fit for this town in the area.”
He said he wants to focus on providing Black Mountain with the outdoor gear its residents need, and he can do that from his current location.
McFerrin said the store has one of the best sock selections in Western North Carolina as well as the biggest selection of Black Mountain-themed merchandise like T-shirts and hats.
He said he is happy with how the store and his family turned out.
“We’re here 23 years after we opened,” McFerrin said. “I consider that a success. I’m still married to my first and only wonderful wife. I think that’s an amazing success for her to put up with me and that I have two great kids and they turned out wonderful. It’s my success that we’re still here and I have a great family.”