Greg Moberly

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March 26, 2007
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Swenson's Outdoors: An eclectic Grass Valley original

Welcome to a place where long johns and wool socks remain on the shelves in the summer and swimming suits are displayed in clear view during the winter.

Swenson's Outdoors, a downtown Grass Valley fixture for nearly 50 years, frequently has so many items for sale, including off-season vacation clothes, that customers need to watch out for boxes that haven't been unloaded, said Rosie Doolittle, the business owner.

"I have to come back here when I have more time," Doolittle, 59, said is a common customer refrain.

A cursory glance of her shop's shelves reveals some atypical items customers might spend an afternoon searching for.

Children's rubber boots, Cub Scout hats, Boy Scout hats, dried army surplus meals, solid human waste disposal kits and bottles to hold fuel cover some of the stocked shelves.

Doolittle also said Swenson's is a key location for work-related clothes brands such as Carhartt and Dickies.

The shop's owner has hawked the work-related gear and the other unusual items for the past eight years. She's only been a permanent Grass Valley resident for the past year after living in Incline Village, Nev., for the past 37 years.

Swenson's Outdoors wasn't what Doolittle had in mind when she originally looked into owning a business in the Grass Valley area.

Doolittle first considered a nursery in Peardale and then was shown Swenson's on more of a whim.

The store fit Doolittle's personality much more than the nursery and her husband, Norm, knew this, Doolittle said.

"He kind of knew that more than I did," Doolittle said of her husband.

Basically, Doolittle said she enjoys all the things the store encompasses.

"It's a surplus store that's unorganized, and I'm not a total neat freak," Doolittle said.

Another plus is that the store is as much fun for her husband as it is for her, she said.

"My husband liked it because it's a guy store," Doolittle said. "It gave him something fun to do."

And, of course, the store has a lot of loyal customers who are content with the fact that Swenson's remains unorganized and eclectic, Doolittle added.

"You're not going to make this a city store, are you?" Doolittle said she has been asked. No, she says, she has no intention of making drastic changes.


To contact Staff Writer Greg Moberly, e-mail or call 477-4234.

Swenson's Outdoors

105 W. Main St.

9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday

10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

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The Union Updated Apr 3, 2007 03:45AM Published Mar 26, 2007 03:00AM Copyright 2007 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.