Rusted Moon Outfitters Is a Broad Ripple Go-to For Local Outdoorsmen
Writer / Benjamin Lashar
Photographer / Ryan Woodall
From families trying out camping for the first time to seasoned hikers preparing to backpack across Europe, every outdoorsman knows their gear can make or break their outing. Getting the right gear can be as simple as a few clicks on the computer, but that process is shallow and impersonal. Even in the age of digital shopping, nothing can beat passionate customer service. Broad Ripple’s Rusted Moon Outfitters hopes to embody this philosophy and prove that nobody is better at selling goods to passionate outdoorsmen than other passionate outdoorsmen.
Rusted Moon’s unique approach to retail can be seen in its name. While calling the shop “Indianapolis Outdoors” might have been more business savvy, the owners wanted a more creative name that captured a feeling. One day when founder Henry Miller was driving and listening to Neil Young albums, he put his finger on that feeling. He came up with the name Rusted Moon. After some back and forth with co-founders Ron and Tonya, they decided on the name.
Picking a name was the easy part, actually constructing the store proved much more difficult. The three founders put up their own money to build Rusted Moon from nothing. After getting the building in October 2001, a long and stressful construction process followed.
“I remember taking a brand-new truck to the dealership and trading it for slap board for the walls,” Miller says.
Eventually, all the hard work and sacrifice paid off, and Rusted Moon was open for business in March of 2002.
Since then, Rusted Moon has left its mark on Broad Ripple. General Manager and founder Ron Lewis credits the store’s success to taking advantage of the small business status.
“We try to look and see what we couldn’t do in a corporate environment and what the major stores can’t do and what the internet retailers can’t do for you, and we simply do those things,” he says.
For example, Rusted Moon’s employees provide service rarely seen in chain stores or online. They are a common sight on local trails and rivers, so Rusted Moon employees are passionate about making sure their customers enjoy the outdoors as much as they do. This could mean helping a customer install a car rack, taking the time to fit a boot or using their knowledge to recommend the proper skis for a customer’s needs.
In addition, Rusted Moon avoids the up-selling tactics of other stores. Employees help customers find the best option, not the most expensive one. By matching customers to equipment and apparel that best fits their needs, Rusted Moon receives a low number of complaints and returns.
One of the best parts of working at Rusted Moon is the other employees, specifically the four-legged ones. Rusted Moon not only allows people to bring in their dogs but also have three store dogs roam the isles. Miller notes how the dogs help employee morale.
“If you could bring your dog, your best friend to work, wouldn’t you be happier to work?” Miller says. “I want the employees to be happy.”
The dogs are often a calming presence during stressful work times. Of course, customers love the dogs just as much as the employees.
Many people, especially children, come to Rusted Moon just to pet the dogs. For many customers, the dogs are the most memorable part of the experience. While the three dogs currently in the store are second generation Rusted Moon dogs, customers still remember and reference the first generation of dogs.
Between the friendly people and lovable dogs, Rusted Moon becomes more than a store. It becomes a place where many people love to hang out. Ron says that many people “just want to come hang out with people they know around stuff they like in a cool atmosphere. We are like a bar with no beer that has outdoor toys.”
Everyone at Rusted Moon welcomes both people who simply want to drink coffee and pet dogs to hardcore outdoorsmen. That being said, they also hope their store can inspire more love for the outdoors in the community. After all, there are plenty of local places to get exercise and fresh air, and there is no better place to learn about them than Broad Ripple’s best outdoor store.
Rusted Moon Outfitters is located at 6410 Cornell Ave, Indianapolis. You can give them a call at 317-253-4453 or visit them online at rustedmoonindy.com.