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Geared for Adventure

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Massey's Outfitters (509 N. Carrollton Ave., 648-0391; 816 N. Hwy. 190, Covington, 985-809-7544; 3363 Severn Ave., Metairie, 885-1144; www.masseys.net) embraces adventure in more ways than one. It drives the store's sales, and according to owner Mike Massey, it describes the store's journey from small sporting goods shop to an outdoor and travel business with an ever-expanding Internet outlet.

Originally a store specializing in competitive sports gear, Massey's was the conception of Mike Massey's father and grandfather. Faced with competition from big-name sporting goods retailers, the Masseys decided to narrow their focus to noncompetitive, recreational sports gear. Mike Massey says that remains the focus today.

'We try to be really good at what the big-box stores are OK at," he says. "They're good at team sports, but we're good at adventure gear that requires more help and customer assistance."

Although New Orleans isn't exactly an outdoor adventure epicenter, Massey says his stores have a constant customer base.

'We cater to what people do," he says, adding that locals turn to Massey's for gear for everything from ski trips to Disney World vacations.

With its redefined outdoor- and travel-oriented market, Massey's expanded to more locations and, more recently, added three additional online affiliates: www.theflipflopper.com for footwear and summer lifestyle clothing, www.800-ski-shop.com for skiing and snowboarding gear and www.wegotyourpack.com for backpacks.

Massey says Web sites generate significant business that "rivals retail sales," but online retail is often difficult to maintain. "Web business is growing substantially, but we need more people (to maintain the sites)," he says. "We're not San Francisco where there are out-of-work programmers everywhere who can help. It's been difficult."

Massey's Mid-City warehouse, which continues to expand as a full-size retailer, helps facilitate online business, he says, and he hopes the North Carrollton location will become integral to the community by doubling as a meeting and event space.

'We're trying to make it more community-centric," he says. "For anyone who has a need for a meeting space, we can provide it."

From a modest family business to a growing dot-com presence, Massey's seems to have a promising future — although Mike Massey isn't exactly sure what that will be.

'We don't plan for the future; it's an adventure," he says. "We grow at the capacity of our staff. We call it cell division. We're really adapters with no strategic plan."

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