Chris Haunold 

Idaho Mountain Touring founder keeps on rolling

Chris Haunold smiled as he pulled out an aged newspaper clipping--a 22-year-old copy of the first issue of Boise Weekly, profiling him and his then-fledgling business.

A lot has changed since he and his former business partner opened Idaho Mountain Touring in 1984--including the color of Haunold's hair, he pointed out with a laugh--but as IMT quickly approaches its 30th anniversary, it's still rolling along.

IMT (idahomountaintouring.com) opened a second location in Meridian, in June 2013, adding a 6,000-square-foot bike shop to its 20,000-square-foot downtown Boise headquarters, which still specializes in bikes of all descriptions, Nordic skis, outdoor clothing and assorted gear to complement it all.

While Haunold admits that it feels pretty good to have the store where it is now, it all started on much shakier ground.

"Initially, we were hanging on by our fingernails," he said, describing how there wasn't enough cash to come up with the deposit required for the gas company to turn on the heat that first winter in business.

Instead, they talked a wood stove company into "displaying" a stove in the store, then burned donated construction scraps to heat a 5-foot radius in the store.

"You had to do what you had to do," he said with a laugh.

It's a simple lesson, but those small businesses willing to learn it might just find success.

Haunold moved to Boise after working in a bike shop in his hometown of Corvallis, Ore., where a former co-worker convinced him to go into business. After his first visit to the Gem State, the skier and biker "thought I'd died and gone to heaven."

The draw of easy access to recreation is one of the most common attractions for new residents, and something that has kept IMT in business. The store opened just as mountain biking was gaining popularity, and by offering options to both mountain and road bikers, IMT has been able to ride the trends.

"Cycling and outdoor sports were fringe sports," Haunold said of the early years. "You had to have a screw loose to be interested in it."

Now, outdoor rec is mainstream and people of all skill levels and ages are looking for ways to get outside.

Despite reaching nearly landmark status on the local rec scene, Haunold said one of his greatest achievements is having employees whose tenure passes the decade-mark. Along the same lines, his favorite part of the business isn't how it has grown or how technology has changed, but talking with his customers.

"It's seeing somebody really get excited about what they're getting into," Haunold said with a smile.

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