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Green Mountain Adventures Opens on Main Street

By Sophie Slotnick, Contributing Writer

If you did not notice on your last run or walk through town, there is a brand new storefront along Main Street. At the beginning of April, Middlebury Mountaineer, previously located next to Leatherworks, moved to 56 Main Street.

In addition to shifting locations of his shop, owner Steven Atocha decided to alter the name of the business as well. Middlebury Mountaineer was the original name of his store, and Green Mountain Adventures was the name of his guide company. However, Atocha felt that the name Green Mountain Adventures was more inclusive and fitting, since the store does not sell much climbing equipment anymore. Rather, it carries a wide variety of products for outdoor adventuring.

Green Mountain Adventures carries brands seen all over the Middlebury campus, such as Patagonia, Hydroflask and Dansko. There is even a selection of Blundstone boots. However, Atocha also emphasized that he makes a concerted effort to carry brands that may not be found in every store in town, like Howler Brothers, Kari Traa and Simms. Atocha said he is also trying to bring in more running gear.

In addition to retail, Green Mountain Adventures, which has been around for 18 years, guides many outdoor trips. Guides or instructors facilitate either overnight or single day summer programs for kids. The kids on these trips have the opportunity to be exposed to a wide variety of activities, such as rock climbing, fly fishing, caving, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Along with youth programs, there is also a set of guides that lead fly-fishing and kayaking trips for adults.

Atocha acknowledged the major advantages of Middlebury as a location for his business.

“We have great access here in Middlebury,” he said. “You can be on the water in 5-10 minutes from when you walk out your door, so it’s nice if you come up for a weekend, you can learn why people move here or why people go to school here.”

56 Main Street is the fourth location the store has occupied since its original location above Storm Café. Atocha admitted he feels as if the store has been “inching towards Main Street” since it opened many years ago. The location is an exciting move for the store as the new heightened visibility of the location will hopefully offset the convenience of online shopping, and generally increase the amount of foot traffic the store receives.

“It is so easy to order online and get two-day shipping right to your door, so it is nice when people walk or run by and see something in the window that catches their attention,” Atocha remarked.

The business was founded in 1998, and Atocha, a recreational management major and graduate of UVM, said he initially wanted to guide for NOLS or Outward Bound. However, he then realized he wanted to start a family and did not want to be away six to eight months of the year. He had extensive experience in this type of work from previous jobs in gear shops. When deciding where to open the shop, Atocha said Middlebury seemed like an ideal fit because of the college and lack of big box stores to monopolize business.

When asked about goals for the future, Atocha joked that his main goal was to keep feeding his children. On a more serious note, he said he wants to continue growing the business, keep the camps full and continue to heighten exposure. He aims to increase the foot traffic the store gets, and also wants to ensure the six to eight guides working for Green Mountain Adventures are busy.

Atocha also acknowledged the fact that for the first three years of business, all he did was work seven days a week, and he would love the cushion to get outside and spend time with his three young boys. Atocha’s family is important to him and he hopes to show his kids why they moved to Middlebury, and have time to explore and play outside with them.

Atocha shared that his favorite part about owning Green Mountain Adventures is “just educating people.” He explained that he did not grow up in a household that was active, and his family did not ski or hike, so he relied on friends’ families to take him on outdoor trips. Atocha strives to give kids a little taste of the outdoors in a safe and controlled environment. He added that it is great when he has the opportunity to speak to a kid who participated in a trip with Green Mountain Adventures many years ago, and hear about how their trip and experience helped shape them.

Atocha is very passionate about his work and he closed bu saying, “I love what I do and I’ll do it as long as I can”.
On your next stroll through town on your way to Carol’s or the Co-Op, stop into Green Mountain Adventures. The store is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to purchasing high quality products, customers at the store will also receive warm welcomes from Atocha’s in-store puppy.

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