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Bend tour business wanders into retail

By Joe Burns
Published On: Dec 30 2012 10:28:52 PM CST

Wanderlust Tours in Bend gets ready for their 20th anniversary with a brand new store. See what they're selling and why it's such a big accomplishment.

BEND, Ore. -

Wanderlust Tours will be celebrating 20 years in the tour guide business next year. And just three weeks ago, they opened up a store in the Fred Meyer shopping center.

NewsChannel 21 visited the new store Sunday to see what sort of impact it will have on the popular tour company.

"We have hopes to make it a wonderful, welcoming place to be for our guests," said Wanderlust Tours owner Dave Nissen.

It's been a dream for over a decade for Dave and Aleta Nissen: having a retail space.

Earlier this month, his dream come true.

"Wanderlust tours was happening out of our home," Nissen said. "Rumbling past our bedroom window at midnight goes a van and a load of canoes being pushed in the back of the property."

When Wanderlust Tours began 19 years ago, it started out of the Nissens' home, then moved to a new building on the backside of the property.

Just a few years ago, the company bought a warehouse to store the snowshoes, canoes, kayaks and all the other equipment needed for the guided tours.

And now, the company has a storefront.

"The favorite part of having this store is the ability for our guests to have a centralized meeting location, and be able to invite them in, and they can grab a cup of coffee before they leave," Nissen said.

"Here they can actually have a fitting room," said Rachel Gonsiewski, a naturalist guide for Wanderlust. "And a rest room where they can change and make sure they have the right sizes of boots and pants and all that for our trips."

Nissen says it's a liberating feeling to be able to have a store, but these past three weeks have been pretty busy.

"The storefront has a homey feel, but I certainly don't want it to be my second home," said Nissen. "However, in the last three weeks, it has been."

While Nissen continues to be busy with the new store, it just might be indicative of, in his words, "a bright future."

"We have, for years, picked up at Fred Meyer where our office location is now," Nissen said. "And it is just comfortable for our guests to walk into a nice building with a nice space and be greeted."

Practically everything in the store is local, including hats, beanies, shirts and zip-up fleeces.

Nissen is in the process of getting Hydro Flask growlers with their logo on it, as well as a kind of Chapstick called Wander Lips.

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