Thanks for the Memories!Posted by Whole Earth | 02.11.2021
Thanks for the Memories!
Whole Earth is celebrating our 50th year! In late 2020, we asked if you would share some of your favorite Whole Earth memories with us. You sent photos of well-loved hiking boots, treasured packs and other items purchased in our stores over the years. You reminisced about visits to the toy department, and sent photos of your adventures in Denali, Kilimanjaro, Mesa Verde and other fabulous places where you’ve traveled with our clothing, shoes and gear. Our thanks to everyone who answered the call for your Whole Earth memories! Here are just a few we’d like to share with all of you.
When Whole Earth opened back in 1970, our customers asked us to carry items found in the Nomadics section of the Whole Earth Catalog. Among the most popular were hiking boots. We’ve now been fitting boots for adventures for quite a while. Some are old, tried and true friends like Andy’s Asolo boots. More recently, customer Sue “got outfitted at our Austin store with gear and the best hiking shoes and socks ever! Made it to the top of Kilimanjaro for Christmas time!” Way back in the day, hiking boots were heavy and stiff. Now, you can find lightweight, flexible hiking boots for all kinds of trails and conditions.
Camping gear was also very popular almost from day one. In the fifties and sixties when people were looking for tents, packs and other gear, they would often head to army/navy surplus stores to see if they could find something that might be useful. By the 1970s new companies were making updated, state of the art tents and gear for campers and backpackers who were heading out into the wilds. Whole Earth became a trusted purveyor of goods from these new companies. Dan sent us this photo of gear he purchased in our first year, excepting of course, the Whole Earth 25th Anniversary Nalgene bottle!
Another early offering that you’ll still find in our stores today is the Yucatan Hammock or Hamacas Rada. Our staff loved traveling in Mexico where they discovered these hammocks and began importing them. Nowadays we carry all sorts of hammocks and hammock chairs, but the Yucatan Hammock has a special place in our heart. The same is true for Rachel who shared the following story with us:
“The colorful Hamacas Radas (hammocks) from Whole Earth have been part of my life for as long as I can remember! Growing up, I spent long hours lounging in the shade, embraced by the brightly-colored woven threads of my mom's favorite hammock, while reading lots of books! When my husband and I got our first little place together, my mom bought us one and it quickly became our favorite reading spot. We’re on our second one now, and laying cradled by those colorful woven threads while looking up at the sky will always take me back to my childhood days and remind me of my Mom. The hammock was always her happy place, and I'm carrying on the tradition! Happy birthday, Whole Earth! Thanks for being such a special part of my life <3.”
Whole Earth has been a favorite place for finding standout gifts for decades. Whether you’re on the lookout for a great gift for a child’s birthday party or you’re looking for something special that will pass the test of time, we are your store! Danielle agrees:
The year was 1998, the first gift my husband bought for me was a Swiss Army watch with a brown leather band. We had only been dating for a few months so he definitely impressed me. He took me to the Whole Earth on 11th and Lamar. We have been married almost 20 years and while I’ve changed out the leather band, I still have the watch.
Sometimes gifts don’t mark a special occasion, but instead are a sign of love, caring and the hope for better times to come. Stephanie shared this story.
This Osprey Daylite Waist Pack was gifted to me by my fiancé. I was having such a rough week with work, school and overall life. And I had to get through another month before I was going to head to Montana to visit his family. We LOVE going to Whole Earth to look at everything. We can spend a whole day, literally, just talking and looking at every little gadget, skimming through books, looking at jewelry and for us that’s the perfect date! As we were going through the different aisles my fiancé was taking note of what made my eyes sparkle. So the next day after a rough day at work, he took me for lunch and then handed me a big bag and a medium size bag. He gave me the Osprey Daylite Pack which I take EVERYWHERE because it’s so convenient. He bought me the Oboz Sawtooth hiking shoes for Montana, a Texas bracelet because he knows my love for Texas, and a bird bandana. That gift was so meaningful and thoughtful because he’s always thinking of ways to cheer me up or make me happy. This is stuff that I use daily, and it’s equipment that I will use for years on end. I wanted to share my wonderful story of one of many occasions that my fiancé has bought me meaningful gifts.
Generations of Texas kids have loved spending time in our toy department. Whether it’s toys for babies or for older children, there are toys to inspire and delight: plush animals to love, fun puzzles and games, arts and crafts materials, kits for budding scientists, and toys for outdoor fun. Amy remembers:
“When I think of Whole Earth I think of the weekly trips to the grocery store followed by a stop at Whole Earth. My son would line up all the cars on this play rug; he never wanted to leave. We amassed quite a collection of those cars over the years. He’s in elementary school now, but I still miss those mornings out with my shopping buddy.”
Jesse remembers visiting our Shepherd store in Houston as a child. It was “a little treasure-filled store with a life-size camel to greet you at the front. It was referred to simply as ‘The Camel Store’ by my family. Hiking supplies, tents, and kites seemed to hang from the ceiling, and along the side wall were shelves and bins full of animal figurines. I remember making a beeline for those shelves and sitting on the floor in front of them, carefully laying out groupings of safari animals and dinosaurs while my parents browsed the rest of the store.
Ahead of the holidays each year my younger sister and I were allowed to pick out items for our stockings. I remember purple and green sand geckos, carabiners, wooden snakes and other novelty items. As an adult, Whole Earth stopped being toy-centric in my mind as I drifted back toward the clothes and shoes, but I thought of those trips again last week, as I left the Westgate shopping center with a blue whale figurine and a set of jingle bells tucked into my bag for our three-year old.”
Like Jesse, many people first come to Whole Earth as children who love our toys. But as they become adults, they make the shift to checking out our shoes and clothing for men, women and kids. Back in the 1970s our bestselling clothing items were rugby shirts and Patagonia standup shorts. While it’s been quite a while since we stocked rugby shirts or standup shorts, we do have lots of Patagonia clothing as well other outdoor brands like The North Face, Arc’Teryx, Marmot, ExOfficio and Howler Brothers. And with our continuing focus on quality, we also offer clothing from FLAX, Pendleton, Tommy Bahama, and lots more. We can outfit your whole family for hot or cold weather like Joe’s family spending a snowy Christmas holiday in Taos.
Outfitting Texans for all kinds of travel has long been one of our missions. And in 2020, that took on a new meaning for Michelle: “Whole Earth outfits us for adventure including moving into college during a global pandemic.” We have the right bag for whatever you need to carry with you, whether it’s a small zip pouch, shoulder bag, tote, daypack, backpack, rolling luggage or duffels of all sizes.
Again, we thank everyone who shared their recollections with us! We hope you’ll continue to make wonderful memories with the clothing, shoes, gear and toys that you find at your favorite Whole Earth store or online. Like Olivia who’s pictured at the top of the page taking in the spectacular view of the Rocky Mountains, gear up for adventure with us!