Swenson’s Outdoors consolidates with move to remodeled Mill Street building | TheUnion.com

Swenson’s Outdoors consolidates with move to remodeled Mill Street building

Swenson's owner Rosie Doolittle shows off some of a corner of her store's new two-story location on Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley, around the corner from their old location on Main Street.
Elias Funez/efunez@theunion.com

Know & Go

What: Swenson’s Outdoors

Where: 125 Mill St., Grass Valley

Hours: 9:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday

For info: Call 530-273-7315

After 59 years in a cavernous and cluttered store on West Main Street — and a relatively short time span (seven years) with a secondary space around the corner — Swenson’s Outdoors has consolidated to its Mill Street building.

A snafu with the phone lines that has finally been fixed, as well as the shuttered Main Street building, led some concerned customers to believe the beloved surplus and outdoor gear purveyor had closed down completely.

But Swenson’s is alive and well, and better than ever, said Rosie Doolittle, who owns the store with her husband, Norm.

Fans of the quirky old layout might feel a little disappointed that all of the store’s varied offerings are now on full display and the store is bright and easy to navigate.

But they can be reassured Swenson’s has retained its mind-boggling selection of gear and military surplus. Socks and boots, hats and jackets, totes and backpacks, tarps and blankets, sunglasses, camping gear, lighters and yes, even the swords and the high-grade foam that can be ordered in custom sizes are still there. They’re just easier to find. The new second floor is devoted to men’s and women’s clothing, and there are now three dressing rooms.

“Now there’s space to see what we carry,” Rosie said. “This makes it really nice … It’s bright and clean and you can actually move from spot to spot. Our long-time customers are jazzed.”

When the Doolittles bought Swenson’s, it had been in the Main Street building since 1959. They leased the space and never were able to persuade the owner to sell, Rosie said.

The Doolittles bought the Mill Street building, which was split into two storefronts at the time, about 15 years ago. They eventually moved their stock of women’s and children’s clothes and accessories into one of the storefronts.

In August 2010, a fire seriously damaged the Mill Street building. When they rebuilt, the Doolittles tore out the wall that divided the two storefronts and took over the entire space.

“We always planned to consolidate (the entire business) there,” Rosie said. “We decided, let’s do it. Business was picking up … And this is a great location.”

The remodeling took Norm two and a half years, she said, in part because he had other projects and in part because the space needed to be made ADA-compliant.

“Now, everything’s central, we don’t have to run back and forth” between the store stores,” Rosie said. Plus, she added, it just makes more sense from a financial standpoint.

Rosie promised that Swenson’s inventory will remain as comprehensive as ever, and is planning to add to the women’s department.

“What’s really cool about this store is that we have 30-year-olds come in with their kids, who came in with their grandparents when they were kids,” Rosie said. “They don’t live here anymore, but they have to come in” when they visit.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Grass Valley and Nevada County make The Union’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User