Dick Turnbull's Outside....20 years old

Dick Turnbull opened the first Outside store in Hathersage in the Peak District in May 1987. Dick can remember his first ever sale, "a Wild Country chalk bag and a block of chalk for £11.20p."

Dick is 56 on Thursday and has been a climber and in the outdoor trade all his life, serving his apprenticeship at Alpine Sports in London before migrating North. Outside now has three climbing stores, Hathersage and Calver in the Peak District, and a virtual store online at and employ nearly 40 full-time and part-time staff, all climbers and outdoor enthusiasts. Many a climber has worked at Outside, often getting experience to launch a career in the outdoor trade. The effervescent Glyn Padget, now sales manager for Scarpa UK was once a manager, as was Richard Wealdon who now helps run Cordee, the outdoor book supplier; Jason Myers (first ascensionist of the iconic boulder problem, Brad Pitt) worked at Outside and is now a sales manager at Wild Country and Andy Kirkpatrick, perhaps the most respected outdoor gear reviewer in the UK was once resident in the Outside climbing department.

The longest serving employee at Outside is Pete Mummery who has been there since the beginning. Fran Beardon, who once managed Outside's Llanberis store (it was sold to its employees and is now the V12 outdoor shop) is the managing director of Outside and has been with Dick for 17 years.

Dick is a very active climber and also a sailor, he has a 39ft sailboat called Lora-Mhor, moored in Oban and he frequently takes climbing-sailing trips around the UK and Ireland. Last year he sailed to Lofoten in Norway on a climbing cruise, and he is frequently found on alpine north faces in the winter with one of his climbing partners, Frank the decorator.

Outside celebrated their 20th anniversary with a party last Saturday evening at Bushey Heath Farm, Tideswell Moor in the Peak District attended by over 400 friends of Outside. There was free beer and a barbecue, much socialising, dancing and merriment.

Some things have changed in the outdoor trade since 1987, some have stayed the same; that " Wild Country chalk bag and a block of chalk for £11.20p." that was Dick's first sale would only cost £14.00 today.....a £1.80 increase in 20 years. In fact, most outdoor gear has stayed the same price or has decreased in price the last twenty years: Goretex jackets used to be £300.00, now they average around £180.00 with only a top end Arcteryx costing close to £300.00. Rock boots, same price as 1990, around £70.00, and the same with ropes. Yet costs, especially rent and rates have risen. With gross margins of only 30%, the purchasing power of the big multiples driving prices down, and of course everyone wanting discount, it isn't an easy time being an independent outdoor shop but Dick Turnbull has stayed the course and has survived and thrived.

Congratulations to Dick and everyone at Outside.

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