Camping supply store big part of Montoursville
Thriving shops and attractive storefronts line the main artery cutting through the heart of Montoursville.
Never mind the presence of the Lycoming Mall just several miles east and the busy sprawling Golden Strip of Loyalsock Township a couple of miles west.
At Lyon Camping & Supply, 361 Broad St., Montoursville, the merchandise all but spills from the walls and aisles.
For 22 years, Mike and Betzi Lyon have owned and operated this store in the borough’s downtown, offering everything, it seems, in the way of RV and camping supplies, military and climbing gear, maps and books and outdoors items.
“I’d say camping and military supplies are the biggest part of the business,” Betzi said.
Added Mike: “We have a fairly good RV and mobile home clientele.”
Not every small town has a single store selling RV supplies, tents, bug spray, hiking trail guides, even Jack Kerouac books.
But it’s no real secret as to why the couple are in business.
It comes down to having a passion for the outdoors and camping.
“If you don’t like what you’re selling, you won’t sell it,” Mike said.
The two are avid campers, but perhaps more importantly, are knowledgeable about their merchandise.
“You have to know what you are selling,” Betzi added.
It means, she said, being open to change and keeping up with the demands of customers.
They got the itch to start their own business after spotting a camping store in Vermont some years ago.
“We thought: ‘We like to go camping,’ ” Betzi recalled.
And so, they bought an existing store in Montoursville, just a few doors from where they now have their business.
The store was moved to its present location in 1997.
Like any fledgling business owners, they slowly built up their enterprise over the years.
These days, there’s plenty more inventory, and Betzi said the two have experimented with different merchandise over the years, which is all part of being in business.
Mike described their enterprise as very market driven.
“We try to refer people to another local business if we don’t have it,” Betzi said.
But chances are, a customer shopping for RV or camping supplies, or even military gear, will find it somewhere in the store.
The military stuff is tucked in the back of the store, where a customer can find everything from Army boots to ammunition boxes.
They have no complaints about their location either.
“We love Montoursville,” Betzi said. “It’s a great little town.”
The downtown, with its eclectic mix of businesses and restaurants, draws plenty of vehicles and foot traffic.
Parking, while not ample, is free throughout the downtown.
“A lot of people are willing to put up with a little bit of a walk,” Mike said.
As for running one’s own business, it requires its share of sacrifice and hard work.
“An owner spends an inordinate amount of time doing it,” Mike said.