The first business venture for husband and wife Ken Johnson and Annalisa DeMarta was selling rare books online. The couple soon realized estate sales and auctions aren't as fun as the great outdoors, so they moved from Rochester, N.Y., to Idaho—Ken's home state—and started selling outdoor gear instead. In January, the couple launched lonecone.com, selling everything from backpacks, ultralight stoves and hammock tents to Boise-inspired apparel and handcrafted German Montessori toys. Now, Johnson and Demarta are opening a storefront on Thursday, May 5, at 412 S. Sixth St.
"We're trying to build a community at Lone Cone," Johnson said. "Our niche is in the everyday-ness of the outdoors. There's a lot of technical talk about gear if you go into a specialty shop, and people are going to talk right over your head. Our goal is to make outdoor gear accessible to people."
Though the storefront is a fraction of the size of the Lone Cone warehouse in Meridian, the walls are filled with colorful displays of Deuter and Lowe Alpine backpacks, St. Croix fly rods, sleeping bags, LuminAID solar-powered lanterns and shelves of Forsake footwear.
Vintage backpacks and outdoor gear scattered around the store are a reminder of the advances in outdoor products over the years.
"We sell the products that we love and use," said DeMarta. "We have three kids [ages 4, 3 and 1 years old], so that dictates how we get into the outdoors."
"Camping isn't as much of a hardcore experience anymore," Johnson added, "but it feels intense going camping with three little kids. They're fascinated by the rocks in the stream. They don't even need to see a moose. A bee is just as exciting."
What's exciting for Johnson and DeMarta is raising their kids in a city surrounded by wilderness.
"When you go to the river [in upstate New York], there's a 100-yard section open to fishermen and they're standing elbow to elbow, combat fishing for these little six-inch pikes and it's crazy," Johnson said. "It was killing me inside. We could have set this business up anywhere on the planet, but we came here just to have access to the outdoors."