Message from the CEO

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that after nearly fifty (50) years in business, HTO will be closing its remaining four stores and shutting down the business.

HTO has been an institution in the DC Metro Area since 1971. From day one the mission was simple: open a store that sells the greatest outdoor gear and apparel on the planet, hire only those who love the outdoors and who are passionate about health and happiness, and provide Positively Outrageous Customer Service to everyone. The retail landscape has changed so much within the last 36 months and the Company has decided that the time has come to begin to ‘wind down’ all company affairs, knowing that it never had to compromise any excellence standards on behalf of the community.

The community and the Company have always supported each other with such dignity and respect, and the Company will always be proud of the role that it played in helping to improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people, employees and customers, within the DC Metro Area. During this transition, all customers and all employees can count on continued excellence and pride from all associations with the Company. HTO firmly believes that an orderly wind-down of affairs provides the best opportunity for professional closure and maximum success and efficiency in what are otherwise sad and nostalgic circumstances.

The Company wishes to thank all of its customers and team members (past and present) for nearly five (5) decades of committed loyalty, high standards, professionalism, association, trust, support, partnership…and most importantly…. friendship. And what a ride it has been – who would have ever imagined that Ground Zero for what is now internationally known as Specialty Active Outdoor Retail was going to be Kensington, Maryland, or, that a passionate and creative outdoorsman from Washington, DC would one day grow up to both pioneer an entire industry, and, to become the example and trend setter for how that industry would grow and evolve for nearly half of a century?

In advance, thank you for your continued support during this transition.


27 thoughts on “Message from the CEO

  1. I worked for HTO in the early days, for Hank Cohan, Bob Cissell and Bob Lichtenberg, and I eventually managed the Fairfax store. Hank was a tough guy to work for but I still use some of what I learned from him to this day, mainly a certain relentless impulse for quality. We tried harder. I’ll remember the people I worked with and many of the customers too. We all like to save money online but we’re going to miss the personal element, the care and the competence. So RIP HTO, you had an exceptional run.

    • Well said Steve Stensland! I heard about this yesterday and went on the site to make sure they were still open so I can use my gift cards! I remember you always talked about working there! Will miss HTO in Fairfax!!

  2. Very sad to hear this. Was and is one of my favorite places to visit and shop; especially since it was a local company. Best to all involved and thank you!

  3. Will really miss you in Tenleytown. You were part of our birthdays and Christmases and bike forays and outdoor adventures. Thanks for all of those times.

  4. Sorry to hear that you are closing down. I remember working with you and Susan Strain on the insurance years ago and always think fondly of HTO and that business relationship as well as my shopping trips to the Rockville store. Good luck in your future endeavors and I hope your furry kid is doing well Sandy.

  5. 1973 my first North Face parka. I think the store was called Hudson Bay Outfitters back then. HTO, me and my family will miss you.

  6. My husband and I recently started increasing our outdoor adventures, and decided that we like HTO the best of our local outdoor stores. So, we’re especially sorry to see the store close.

  7. Sorry to hear such sad news, about such a great company ~ “Save the Wilderness.” My husband and I met at HTO, while we both worked there back in the 1980s.

  8. I bought my first pair of heavy duty hiking boots at the old space in Fairfax in ’91 Those boots are still in excellent shape! I loved HTO.

  9. Thanks for ending it like this. Too many beloved local stores just ghost nowadays (perhaps not always by choice, but still).

    HTO Tenleytown staff helped me to start running 5 years ago and complete the Army 10-miler by finding me the right shoes, at a reasonable price, and a quality that got me through 2 years of runs.

    Thanks! And best wishes for whatever you all do next.

  10. I also remember when the store was called Hudson Bay Outfitters. My most recent bike and specialty hat are from Hudson Trail. I always come in to have my bike tuned up. What a wonderful service to customers.The staff has always been very helpful even without a sale. I will miss Hudson Trail Outfitters.

    JoAnn Shapiro

  11. In the ever changing retail landscape, few stores stand that have character and a pulse – regardless of # of visits, every time I walked into the Rockville store and rode the escalator up, I knew I was entering a genuine retail establishment that was different even magical in a way. It is sad that customer service, knowledge of products, and cordiality is magical but HTO was a rare breed. We have replaced these genuine local businesses that truly signify the best in us with the exact opposite. I want to thank you for the years and know that when I found out I called my father and we were far from elation, yet fondly reminisced. In any event, that would never happen if any of the surrounding stores met a similar fate. You did it right and and people really are affected that the doors are closing. That is a feat and no one can take that from you.

  12. The end of an outdoor Washington institution In the 70’s, I frequently shopped at the store on Metropolitan Avenue in Kensington as I was starting out in nordic skiing, backpacking and hiking.They had a great staff that was friendly and knowledgeable and I loved the layout of that store. Although at that time they had little competition – they were well stocked with the a large variety of outdoor gear of high quality. I will miss their Rockville store.

  13. For those who think the best “deal” is always online and like to brag about it, this is the end result. HTO offered a great in-store experience; quality merchandise, knowledgeable salespeople who actually wanted to help, and a cool store. I learned more from visiting them than I ever will from a Google search. Best wishes to all the employees.

  14. Best wishes to all the people of HTO — you’ve been helping me get outdoors, biking, hiking, camping, running, skiing, xc, paddleboarding, canoeing, and climbing (think that’s all of them) for 30 years or so now.

    I’m sure this is no consolation, but in a very real way, you’ve won the war even if it seems you’ve lost the battle — you’ve turned several generations of Washingtonians on to the outdoors. My kids hiked a good chunk of Yosemite in boots bought there when they were 5 years old — speaking for them, I know they’ll miss the climbing wall, the rock cave, and the bridge!

  15. So sad. HTO was the best outdoor store in the area. REI does not carry even half of the brands, and cannot even come close to matching their customer service. I bought three bikes here, numerous jackets and countless clothes and shoes. It was a classy institution top to bottom and it was always exciting going in there. Great job to everyone involved and RIP to the stores. You will be sorely missed.

  16. The HTO store at Pentagon Row has been one favourite place to go during my trips to DC during almost 10 years… Wil miss the fun of spending time there, sometimes just browsing, often buying, reviving always great customer care from the staff.

  17. Stinks the bigwazoo, HTO closing! I’ve shopped in stores in DC, MD, and VA over my lifetime. HTO has always been a fun cool place to shop. It’s the only store my son will let me browse in, where we can shop together, since he also loves camping, hiking, and other outdoor gear. There are not enough stores like HTO, so this really is unfortunate. I prefer to look at and feel my stuff in person!

  18. Damn- The last “Dinosaur” just died! There are truly no more! Thanks for all preparing me for all the runs, all the hikes, all the miles I conquered on my bike- hell, THANKS FOR LIFE!!!!

  19. I grew up near the Kensington store and I knew it as Hudson BAY Outfitters! I also recall shopping there with my parents (during fabulous sales only – we had limited funds). It was the most amazing place to me. I still expect to see it when I drive by – but I also expect to see Mizell Lumber in business too. Thank you for the many years. I’m sorry you’re closing for good and I wish everyone well.

  20. I also grew up in the Kensington area when it was Hudson Bay Outfitters (the original “HBO”). I bought my first pair of hiking boots there 35 years ago – a pair of Vasques which I still have. You helped launch me into a series of hikes and camping trips that are among are my fondest memories. Great service, great gear, and a great loss. Best wishes and happy trails.

  21. I have been a steady customer of the Fairfax store since about 1985. Many sets of cross country skis, original Rollerblades, the only bike that I ever purchased new (a Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo), clothing, Xmas gifts, numerous backpacks and messenger bags, a Go Pro setup, and just this summer, my first kayak. I remember receiving sale flyers in the mail with an exhaustive list of each and every item on sale. I went to the Fairfax store this weekend. It was sad but I had to go. I “purchased” several HTO-branded thermometer gauges and mini compasses to attach to my zippers, and paid using my preferred member rebate certificate I still had from my kayak purchase, which they still accepted. Classy! Thank you to everyone I crossed paths with there. I never had a bad experience.

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