Retailer Spotlight: Half-Moon Outfitters in South Carolina and Georgia
This uber-sustainable, pet-friendly, and musically-inclined retail shop is perennially on the leading edge of specialty outdoor retail
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Half-Moon Outfitters doesn’t just talk the talk when it comes to being an environmental steward in the outdoor industry. The chain’s owner, Beezer Molten, walks the walk by incorporating eco-friendly initiatives in eight stores scattered across Georgia and South Carolina. He founded the first in Charleston in 1993, opening the others one after the other.
Celebrating two and a half decades next year, the specialty outdoor retailer isn’t backing down from executing impressive projects, such as revamping a new space with green practices modeled after receiving South Carolina’s first LEED platinum certification.
“A lot has changed in the last 25 years, but a lot has stayed the same,” said Katherine Smith, the store’s creative director. “We still are part of the fabric of our communities, and we do our best to cause the least environmental harm and give back.”
By early 2018, Half-Moon’s second oldest store in Greenville, South Carolina, will relocate to a 14,000-square-foot Net Zero Building, or NZEB—a building that uses roughly the same amount of energy it produces on an annual basis through rooftop solar panels. “It will be one of very few retail establishments in the country with this designation,” Smith said.
The old brick structure once housed an auto parts store, but has sat vacant for years in the city’s Midtown district. It will house Half-Moon, and possibly a local beer brewer and local boutique coffee concept. The building is being renovated to comply with Half-Moon’s existing sustainability standards, which were first implemented in the 2005 and 2006 build of a new distribution center. The center was later honored with the first LEED platinum-certified designation in South Carolina.
For years, Molten has implemented eco-friendly practices in numerous other stores, such as the installation of a large solar tree—a tree-trunk-like pole with limbs supporting solar panels—outside the store in Columbia, South Carolina. He also has builders use paints free of toxins, lumber, and other materials that are either recycled or regionally harvested, and recycled and reclaimed fixtures.
Functional and Fluffy Features
Each of the eight Half-Moon stores has its unique character, but two have noteworthy features. Customers can play on a large bouldering area in the flagship store in Charleston. The faux boulder was added during a remodel of high-ceilinged former movie theatre. “We knew we needed to take advantage of the space,” Smith said. “The boulder seemed like the perfect way to interact more with our customers. Besides the usual climbers, the boulder is a training area for a local kids’ climbing team and a popular spot for birthday parties.”
In Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina, the store features an asset less easy to spot than boulders—the black shop cat, Tenzing Norcat. Smith says he is the “most unique employee,” adding that he keeps unwanted pests away and is the “chief ambassador for good morale.” He even has his own Instagram account.
The Store as a Stage
Other than trail runs, movie festivals, and other events traditionally hosted by outdoor retailers, Half-Moon’s flagship store in Charleston is sometimes the backdrop for touring bands. Many artists have come through the store to play short, acoustic sets as part of the Acoustic Rock Series. Sometimes they perform full concerts. In April, well-known Portland rock band Portugal. The Man did a gig in the flagship store with the rock climbing boulder area as the backdrop. Audience members get to snag beers and their admission is donated to local non-profits.
Smith says they land the exclusive showings by collaborating with a local radio station and a local music venue. Smith says she contacts acts on tour in Charleston to perform a few songs, talk to the audience, and take pictures. The concerts drive sales day-of because several hundred people are in the store at one time. ”However, it’s also a great community event and a way to reach out to our customers in a unique way,” Smith said. “The avid music listener is oftentimes an avid outdoors person, so it’s interesting to interact with our customers in a non-traditional way.”