From the outside, Magic Valley Gear Exchange seems like a typical downtown shop. Nestled between a gold and silver buyer and Jim Bob’s Bakery, its windows are covered with various stickers that flank a set of mannequins modeling activewear, but once you walk inside, you’re transported to an oasis of outdoor possibilities.
“We’re a one-stop shop for all things adventure,” said Whitney Tinker, the Magic Valley Gear Exchange general manager. “We specialize in climbing, but we also support backpacking, skiing, rafting, camping – if it happens outside, we probably have something for it.”
Inspiring Adventure Through Experience
While Magic Valley Gear Exchange customers make the shop their first stop for new and consigned shoes, helmets, rafts and packs, the store is perhaps best known for the extensive resources they provide to outdoorspeople of all abilities. Their floor-to-ceiling lending library includes guidebooks, climbing magazines and mountaineering memoirs that sit on shelves lining an indoor skill wall. Skylar Wildman, the shop’s social media manager, said that in addition to equipment testing, the wall is used during clinics to teach top rope basics or educate new climbers on proper safety and techniques.
“Our free clinics are popular, but so are our community events like trivia nights and the backcountry camp kitchen cookoff,” she said. “We’ve even brought in sponsored athletes and authors to share their climbing photos and stories, and we’ve hosted open climbs at places like Dierkes Lake.”
It’s clear that the staff at Magic Valley Gear Exchange is not satisfied with sales alone – they’re committed to educating the community and they’ve got the background and experience to do so. Shop owner Tony Roberts is not only a Southern Idaho Climbing Coalition board member, but also an American Mountain Guides Association single-pitch instructor and climbing instructor at the College of Southern Idaho. On top of that, Skylar climbs competitively, and Whitney is both a wilderness therapy guide and wilderness first responder.
“Countless people come here to learn because they know we genuinely care about their adventure,” Whitney said. “You’ve got every outdoor sport within a two-hour radius of Twin Falls. If you only have stores that offer the gear and not the knowledge, it takes years to learn. Instead, we’ve essentially built a community center where people can come and learn and enjoy the experience so much more.”
A “Boulder” Community
On paper, climbing is an individual sport. But, as Whitney and Skylar will tell you while reminiscing about their favorite trips to the mountains, it’s surprisingly social in practice.
“I’ve never gone climbing and not walked away with new friends,” Skylar said. “And it’s not just people my age – it’s a group from all walks and stages of life.”
In that way, the community built by Magic Valley Gear Exchange mimics and supports that of the Twin Falls business community, and serves as continued inspiration for Tony, who also owns Magic Valley Gold Buyers. The Gear Exchange has created an ecosystem that includes other small businesses like Gemstone Climbing, educational partners like the College of Southern Idaho, and a slew of volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts dedicated to preserving the landscape of popular climbing destinations like nearby City of Rocks National Reserve.
“Twin Falls is the perfect location for a climbing adventure,” said Whitney. “Having our shop here gives people the opportunity to come in, try something on and learn without the trial and error of shopping online, but more importantly it gives them a place to ask questions and make new connections with people who help carry them along their journey.”
Stop into Magic Valley Gear Exchange on the corner of 2nd Ave. East and Jerome St. East in downtown Twin Falls to consign, shop or learn the ins and outs of climbing. For more information visit Magic Valley Gear Exchange or follow them on Instagram and Facebook.