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Columbia’s The Backpacker to close after 45 years

The Sandhill Research and Education Center is a popular walking and hiking place.
The Sandhill Research and Education Center is a popular walking and hiking place. tglantz@thestate.com

Columbia outdoor gear store The Backpacker is closing after 45 years.

According to its website and an email sent to its customers, the store at 1215 Wayne St. in Columbia’s Vista is liquidating its stock with sales from 20 percent to 70 percent.

No reason was given for its closure.

“Thank you all for giving us the opportunity to serve your outdoor and travel needs for the last 45 years,” the email and website note said. “So many great adventures and friendships. ... happy trails.”

The Backpacker was opened in 1973 by Malcolm and Lewis Jones.

The store opened after Lewis Jones, a high-school biology teacher who hiked in the mountains on summer breaks, realized his hobby could become his livelihood, according to a 2013 story in The State.

So Jones opened The Backpacker, the first store of its kind in the Midlands. Over the years, Jones moved from camping and backpacking to technical rock-climbing, downhill skiing and paddling.

The Wayne Street storefront has special significance for Jones, according to the 2013 story. He remembered his mother bringing him there in the early 1950s, when he was a boy and the building was a Gold Kist feed store. “We were poor, and you could buy a dozen cracked eggs for 15 cents,” he said.

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