John McFerrin loves the outdoors. So much so that he opened his outdoor store.
McFerrin moved to Black Mountain from Arkansas in 1986 and eventually opened Take a Hike Mountain Outfitters in his new home in April 1999.
“I’ve always loved hiking and camping and I started in the early-mid 70s backpacking and learning about these things and it kind of became a hobby and then a passion,” McFerrin said. “I ended up one day just taking the plunge to see if I could do my shop and I never went back.”
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Before opening his store, McFerrin said he was working for a similar outfitter in Asheville, where he specialized and ran the shoe department. He described himself as a “shoe magnifier”.
“That kind of made me a specialist outdoor shoe guy,” McFerrin said. “I’m kind of fit. I have a knack for matching different types of feet to the right shoes and then the right size. My first love is outdoor shoes.”
McFerrin said he’s proud his store is successful, especially after surviving the 2008 recession.
However, McFerrin said, there are difficulties that come with owning a business.
He said he likes being his own boss and making his own schedule, but has found it more difficult, especially in recent years, to work at Take a Hike.
“I’m working hard right now,” McFerrin said. “Maybe more than ever, and I have to remind myself that when I’m not in the store, I’m doing what I love, which is hiking and camping, and that just keeps me grounded and balanced.”
McFerrin said it’s hard not being able to see too far into the future when it comes to staffing and economics, or whether or not he’ll get a paycheck, but he still enjoys being a business owner.
Although he said he’s considered expanding in the past, he’s not particularly interested.
“I’m pretty pleased,” McFerrin said. “This is our only location and I’ve thought about expanding to other areas, but I just feel like this is a really good fit for this city in the area.”
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He said he wants to focus on providing Montenegro with the outdoor amenities its residents need, and he can do that from his current location.
McFerrin said the store has one of the best selections of socks in Western North Carolina, as well as the largest selection of Black Mountain-themed merchandise, such as T-shirts and hats.
He said he is happy with how the store and his family turned out.
“We’re here 23 years after we opened,” McFerrin said. “I consider it a success. I am still married to my first and only wonderful wife. I think it’s a tremendous achievement for him to put up with me and that I have two wonderful children and they turned out great. It’s my success that we’re still here and I have a wonderful family.”