Walkabout Outfitter: The Story
Wow! Ten years! The seeds of Walkabout Outfitter were planted a long time ago while hiking along the Appalachian Trail in NC. I was on a backpacking trip with my scout troop and we came upon some thru-hikers. They had huge bushy beards with enormous packs on their backs. They were headed toward Maine and I stared at them in awe. How could a person walk 2000 miles with a backpack? Many years later I “quit my day job,” sold everything, and started my own thru hike. Along the way I made some great friends, experienced some of the best America has to offer, and hopefully inspired some more little kids to do the same. Today after serving Virginia for 10 years I hope we continue to awe and inspire you.
That’s the foundation for Walkabout Outfitter, but that’s not how it all got started. No, it all started over a cup of coffee! I moved to Lexington, VA in 2003 and needed a new coffee maker. You see, I’m a coffee snob, and I like only good coffee so naturally I went to my local kitchen shop, Ladles and Linens, to see what they had. This little fireball of a girl, Tina, with shocking red hair sold me a high end coffee maker before I could say “French Press.” That was the real start of Walkabout Outfitter! I was working for FEMA at the time, and I had to travel a lot but wanted to spend more time with Tina, so I began looking around for a position in Lexington, and thought I could open an outfitter. I wanted to bring my AT experience to Lexington, and I had a vision of creating a store that you wanted to visit just because you liked going in there and looking around and hang out. We opened our first store in 2005, and after 10 years and 5 stores, it remains very important to me for customers have that same experience for our customers. We have also had the pleasure of working with many great staff that are the face of Walkabout Outfitter. Without them nothing would be possible and I thank them dearly. A lot has changed for me personally over these last ten years. First off, Tina called me not long after we got Walkabout open and suggested we get married. I said sure, and less than a week later we had a beautiful outdoor wedding! Now we have two boys, Alex 7 and Finn 5. In addition to Walkabout, we also own Ladles and Linens in three locations. We have experienced many things together; marriage, childbirth, business success, business failures, cancer, cancer treatment, recovery, survival, life again. We are thankful every day to our great loyal customers and our fabulous staff that has made the Walkabout family strong for 10 years. Thank you! Kirk
A Timeline History of Walkabout Outfitter
- Kirk quit his day job and hiked the entire Appalachian Trail.
- Highland Inspections Inc., which owns Walkabout Outfitter was established by Kirk Miller to conduct Home Inspections, FEMA Disaster Inspections, and civil engineering consulting.
- Kirk went into Ladles and Linens and bought a coffee maker from Tina, the owner of Ladles and Linens. Tina was floored by Kirk’s handsome looks and brilliant mind. A friendship then romance ensued. Kirk’s job with FEMA required him to travel for 30 days at a time. Kirk wondered about how to stay local and not travel so much because of this enticing romance.
- After learning how a store was run from Tina, Kirk thought it a good idea to start a little outfitter in Lexington. Tina was not pleased because she wanted her future husband to have a real job!
- Kirk used his Eagle Scout and AT thru-hiker experiences and knowledge he learned from Tina to open up Walkabout Outfitter in downtown Lexington. Kirk wanted to setup an outfitter like the ones he had seen along the Appalachian Trail when he did his hike in 1999. Small but very friendly establishments. Kirk and Tina designed the Walkabout Outfitter logo which is meant to show a person proud of their personal accomplishment without being the king of the world, hence the arms stretched out at shoulder length.
- Kirk and Tina open the first store in Downtown Lexington, VA.
- A location became available in downtown Roanoke right beside Ladles and Linens. Tina and Kirk decided to open a second location. Also, a better location became available in Lexington and that store was relocated.
- A building went up for auction in downtown Roanoke three doors down from where Walkabout was located. Tina and Kirk won the bid and moved Walkabout to that location called the “Agnew Seed Building.” That building had been in the Agnew family and used as a feed and seed building for over 100 years. The success in that new location led Tina and Kirk to believe that they could expand more into Roanoke.
- A location became available in the “District” at Valley View Mall. Tina and Kirk decided to open a third Walkabout there because it gave the feel of a downtown store with the exposure of a mall.
- Walkabout Outfitter expands to Harrisonburg, VA, opening a store on Main street.
- Walkabout Outfitter opens a store in Carytown, Richmond, VA.