Base Camp stores in Helena and Billings are for sale

Chris Jorgensen

In 1975, Scott Brown wanted to call his new outdoor gear store “Porcupine.” His partner wanted to call it “Switchback.”

They were knocking names around while eating at a diner. An “old hippie” sitting nearby was eavesdropping, Brown said. The man suggested naming the store after the place where expeditions begin, the base camp.

The name stuck as Brown and his partner opened their first store that year in Helena.

In 1990, they opened the second Base Camp at 1730 Grand Ave. in Billings.

Now, both stores and the buildings they’re in are for sale. Brown turns 71 this year and said his wife joked with him recently that she didn’t want him to die running the stores and leave the trouble to her. They’re going to sell while they’re still active and healthy and spend their retirement paddling, hiking and traveling.

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“We’ve really been lucky over the years to have the kind of community support we’ve had,” Brown said Tuesday.

When big-chain outdoor stores like Scheels and REI moved to Billings, Brown said he hardly felt it. And, while nearly everyone hated the recent pandemic, for

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