7. MIKE DONOHUE & MARC SHERMAN: OUTDOOR GEAR EXCHANGE’s INSTIGATORS
Mike Donohue and Marc Sherman had big plans for celebrating Outdoor Gear Exchange’s 25th anniversary this year. The co-owners of the now-legendary gear shop had hoped to thru-hike the Long Trail, bringing along employees and guest celebrities and celebrating at stops along the way. Covid-19 stopped those plans but it didn’t stop OGE, as it is known, or its online business, GearX.com from continuing to innovate.
Neither partner had prior retail experience when they started working at OGE but both were avid consumers of outdoor gear. They built the shop up from a place to find or sell used gear to one of the most robust brick-and-mortar outdoor retailers in the country, with a 44,000-square-foot retail shop on Burlington’s Church Street.
More than just a gear shop, OGE has been active in promoting and supporting outdoor recreation around the state—and making it accessible for all. In 2013 it launched annual OGE’s Charitable Grants, funded by customer donations through its consignment program. The 2020 summer/fall grants of up to $2000 went to six organizations, including the Catamount Trail Association, the Waterbury Trails Alliance and Green Mountain Conservancy. Last spring OGE started hosting LGBTQ shopping nights and in fall 2020 named Miguel Reda, who had already been helping to shape the company’s approach to minorities, as its first full-time manager for diversity, equity and inclusion.