-Abbie Walker, Editor
Nate and Beth Shores have always been outdoor fanatics. But it wasn’t until this past December that they turned their love of exploring nature into a business. Now Clinton residents can embrace their own outdoor spirits by visiting Paxton Peak, Olde Towne’s newest addition.
The store is named after the Shores’ 11-month-old son, Paxton, who can often be seen on his mother’s hip behind the store’s counter or greeting customers with a smile. Paxton Peak specializes in outdoor apparel and gear, but the Shores are also outdoor experts themselves.
Nate grew up spending most of his summers at his grandparents’ farm in rural Mississippi, where he explored the woods and countryside. He also learned woodsman skills from his father while out at a family cabin near Taylorsville, Miss. Now, he works as a federal tech for the Mississippi Army National Guard and has served with the Army for 17 years, including 9 years with the Special Forces and combat deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
Beth has also enjoyed the outdoors since she was little. Coming from a “heavily boy scout-influenced family,” she grew up doing a lot of camping, splunking, and hiking.
“I just love the outdoors,” Beth said. “I’ve always had a passion for it. So why not showcase it in your own store and try to get other people excited about the outdoors too? It’s just such a big world out there.”
The Shores have been on quite a few adventures together, including a trip to “England, Scotland, and everywhere in between.” With four children—ages 12, 11, 5, and 11 months, the Shores have their hands full, but they make time to enjoy the outdoors as a family. So it was no surprise that they channeled their nature enthusiasm into a business.
However, much of the inspiration for Paxton Peak came from Mississippi College. “We noticed, while driving through Olde Towne, a lot of the students hanging Eno hammocks on campus, and I said to Beth, you know what Clinton needs, an outdoor store,” said Nate.
“This was really our five-year plan, not our right-now plan,” Beth said. “It was one of those do-or-die things.”
Despite opening during the holiday season and a lot of their merchandise not coming in until the week before, Paxton Peak’s start has been a successful one.
“It was a lot to do in very little time, but we got it done together,” Beth said. “January is notorious for being the slowest month for retail, but the response has been great!”
Beth’s business sense developed long before Paxton Peak. Her family used to own a balloon company called Mr. Charlie’s Balloons, which taught her about business at a young age. “The entrepreneurial gene has always been in my blood,” she said.
Beth also started two restaurants in Clinton before she took time to stay home and care for her children. And though retail is a new world for her, Beth is excited about the challenge. “I’ve always had creative juices flowing, so this was just a fun new palette,” she added.
With clothing brands like Southern Marsh, Kavu, Prana, Outdoor Research, Mountain Hardware, and LaSportiva, customers are sure to find what they are looking for. But Paxton Peak mostly specializes in gear. Besides Big Agnes and Granite Gear tents and sleeping bags, the store offers all the camping essentials, including pocket knives, stoves, compasses, flashlights, dehydrated food, and anything else one would need for spending a couple of days out in the woods or mountains.
Beth said she loves “all the little gadgets and gizmos that can make your trip a lot more fun.” And with newly-arrived GroPro video equipment, outdoor enthusiasts can also capture their adventurous moments.
For the Choctaw student, Paxton Peak sells Eno hammocks, Nalgene and Camelbak water bottles, and Innova disc golfing equipment. Students can also get a 10 percent discount with their college IDs. Paxton Peak hopes to offer MC students “the convenience of not having to leave town,” as well as provide an “outlet” for them to explore their outdoors side.
In fact, the Shores are all about helping out the local community. Beth used to be on the board of directors for the Clinton Nature Center, and she wants to continue to support them, as well as Clinton Parks and Recreation and the Main Street program. “Clinton is a great place for family; it’s so active,” she said. “It’s been growing a lot, especially the downtown, and we want to support that.”
Right now, most customers simply stumble upon the store while walking through downtown, but the Shores hope to soon make a name for Paxton Peak as an “outdoor revival” for the community. At some point, they would like to start offering trips and tours for customers, such as taking groups camping and hiking.
“We want to start an outdoor club,” Beth added. “We’ve had so much interest.” The goal is to become a “hub” for outdoor tips. “We want to get the information out about great places that are around here.” She said they are still learning a lot about outdoor equipment and enjoy hearing from others about their experiences and what worked well for them.
“We want to be an open door for everybody. You don’t have to want to buy something to just hang out and talk,” said Beth. “People come in just to share their adventures. It’s really bringing out of the woodworks people in this town who love the outdoors. And hearing about adventures makes me want to do adventures and vice versa.”
In fact, one opportunity to share in the love of an outdoor sport is a disc golf clinic being held on Mar. 1 at Brighton Park. Paxton Peak is partnering with Innova Discs and Clinton Parks and Recreation for this event, and two professional disc golfers will be teaching the fundamentals of the sport and hosting a mini tournament. The clinic will be free for all ages. Beth said she wouldn’t be surprised if some disc golf leagues resulted from this event.
Overall, the goal for Paxton Peak is “to promote and share a passion for the outdoors” and “to provide high-quality apparel and equipment that makes your outdoor adventure more enjoyable,” said Nate. “I believe the store will also encourage my family to spend even more time exploring and having outdoor adventures.”
Paxton Peak is located at 108 West Leake Street in Clinton and is open Tuesday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m. For more information call 601-473-2200 or go to paxtonpeak.com. Follow them on Facebook, as well as Twitter and Instagram under @paxtonpeak.