Switchback Gear Exchange opened its doors in beautiful Marquette, MI in 2010. We were passionate about helping our community enjoy the diverse recreation opportunities Marquette had to offer and we are geeked to bring our knowledge and excitement to Grand Rapids. We know that some activities are very gear intensive which can intimidate newcomers. Meanwhile, other outdoor enthusiasts love to make quick upgrades which leaves a lot of unused gear sitting around collecting dust. We provide a well-organized retail shop specializing in high quality and affordable outdoor recreation equipment. We also offer exemplary customer service, education, and insight related to outdoor recreation products and activities. We believe the more we enjoy our natural surroundings the more conscious we are about preserving it...and that's what we care about most!
Meet The Crew
Sam: Shop Manager, Camptain
Sam came to us in April 2016 because he loves gear shops, the people who hangout in them, and the adventures they facilitate. At Switchback, he appreciates that the gear has character, that he never knows what cool things are going to end up on our shelves, and that we are able to foster an outdoor lifestyle for our staff and customers. Sam’s outdoor adventures usually involve backpacking, winter camping, bike rides with friends, and drinking beer on porches or by campfires, but this one time, he thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail. He describes that trip as “walking a lot and hurting most of the time in beautiful places.” When he rejoined normal society, he needed to maintain some outdoorsiness and abnormalcy, which ultimately brought him to us. Sam also lives a car-free lifestyle and pedals everywhere he wants to go. In short, he’s a cool dude who’s traveled a lot by walking or pedaling his own two feet.
Ryan: Lead Mechanic, Bike Wizard
Before Ryan joined us in May 2016 he was already building and tuning bikes in his basement for all of his friends. He stumbled upon Switchback on a fateful Craigslist bike search and decided to come in and check us out. After one visit, he was hooked. The endless stream of used bike parts to rummage through was a dream come true, and he loved the family feeling of our staff. Ryan recently had his mind blown right out of his hammock by a storm at Nordhouse Dunes, and is generally game for anything outdoors involving bikes, hikes, brews, or crews. He is also clinically obsessed with bike polo and would love to tell you about it sometime!
Cathy: Shop Manager, Stoker
Cathy has been with us in full and part time roles since June 2017, and recently decided to join us full time as a store manager. She discovered us one day as she was strolling through her neighborhood and immediately fell in love with the staff culture and “mountain shop” vibes. She loves that at work she is surrounded by her favorite activities and by coworkers and customers who share her interests—biking, camping, hiking, kayaking, and gardening, to name a few. One of her favorite outdoor memories was a solo trip she took to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. High in the dunes it was so peaceful and quiet she could hear her own heartbeat. Cathy is a kickass go-getter, avid diy-er, tiny-home-dweller, food-grower, and Grandma of two.
Bob: Mechanic, Bike Historian
Bob joined us about two years ago after his love of used bike parts drew him to our overflowing bins of bike bits. Then he realized he liked the people here just as much as he liked the bikes, so he decided to keep spending his weekends with us. When he’s not working at the shop, Bob likes biking, hiking, kayaking, and teaching his two cats how to repair bikes. His most memorable outdoor experience was a backpacking trip he and his father took in the Porcupine Mountains. If you like soft-spoken cat-lovers, collecting two-channel stereos and vinyls, or human rights advocacy, come in on a weekend sometime and talk to Bob.
Emily: Education and Outreach Coordinator
Emily has been hanging out at Switchback officially and unofficially in various roles for the past two years. She floats around and helps however she can when not at her day job. For her, Switchback is a way to connect to the outdoorsy people and hobbies she loves. She loves all types of biking, rock climbing, backpacking, camping, cross-country skiing, and the occasional trail run. Her most memorable outdoor experience was a 2-month stint in the Amazon researching primates, but she also appreciates the breeze, sand dunes, and lack of bullet ants at places like Nordhouse Dunes and Hoffmaster State Park. Emily is a proud nerd and former teacher who loves to share her passion for bikes and the outdoors with anyone who will listen. Come geek out with her at the shop or at a Switchback event any time!
Josie: Camp Assistant, Campinator
Josie came to us in January of 2018. She grew up in the neighborhood, and ever since we opened, she has loved Switchback’s mission of giving new life to quality products and our friendly local bike shop vibe. Josie loves helping customers prepare for life’s raw moments in the outdoors and cheering them on as they get ready for their next adventure. Josie loves backpacking, snowboarding, running, picnicking and biking with friends. One of her favorite experiences so far was a spontaneous adventure with friends to Iceland last February. They spent their time driving the southern coast, hiking by glaciers, exploring an old plane wreck, and, despite what the song advises, they went chasing a lot of waterfalls. Josie also loves all kids, and has really enjoyed leading camping and backpacking programs for teens over the past 5 years. She describes getting kids to enjoy simple authentic community in the outdoors as “pure joy.”
Eve: Mechanic, The Wheel Deal
Eve is the newest member of our team, and she says every day still *singing* feels like the first time. What makes working here so exciting for her is that she can share the things she loves. The world of outdoor activities can sometimes be daunting, and it’s rewarding for her to help others get past the intimidation of gear, lingo, and inexperience and start enjoying themselves! Eve’s preferred form of outdoor adventure is biking, and she is starting to get into some gravel road riding. She also loves the rewarding gooey goodness of lugging marshmallows in her backpack for miles, and then finally roasting them around a cozy campfire. One of her most priceless backcountry moments was in Wyoming when camped along a rushing river with rocks, boulders, and miniature waterfalls. She was setting up camp in a bit of a hurry, having gotten a little lost in finding the site, when she looked up and saw a momma moose and her calf drinking peacefully from the stream just feet away. Eve is also a coffee-lover, dog mom, and scientist who just published her first scientific article!
Rachel: Owner, Mastermind
Unsurprisingly for the owner of an outdoor gear store, Rachel loves lots of different outdoor activities--mountain biking, kayaking, camping, social biking, bikepacking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking with her enormous dogs. A trip that stands out to her is her first long backpacking trip on North Manitou Island. She got lost, enjoyed amazing sunsets, escaped an insane black fly hatch, and spent hours exploring the building ruins and walking the beaches. It’s the only place she’s backpacked more than once, and she highly recommends it. Rachel is a “Jack of All Trades” who is always seeking knowledge, understanding, and adventure. She’s less concerned with being “epic” and more focused on spending some of every day in nature meditating and recreating. She loves sharing that connection with her community. Whether its preparing for a thru-hike or buying their first bicycle, she loves helping others find their place in the natural world.
Ready to shop? Check out our ever-changing inventory here!