Around 5 p.m. on a recent weekday, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer was rapidly disappearing from a $696 cooler at Snow Peak’s Soho location. In the past few years, the Japanese outdoor store has become an unlikely watering hole, bringing together urban foragers, downtown artists, and the fashion set. It’s the kind of place where one might bump into Jenna Lyons and her son preparing to outfit her upstate house for tented sleepovers. “We have models come in, and I’m like, ‘Oh, shoot! What are you doing here?,’ ” said Akil County, 26, a Brooklyn native who’d never been camping before he started working for the brand two years ago. “But it makes sense because it’s an ‘If you know, you know’ kind of thing.” Some customers might walk in off the street, enticed by the sight of a Japanese denim fishing vest ($464) hanging in the window, only to discover hot dogs sizzling on a $250 camping grill. But the store serves serious “gearheads,” too. Every object from beach grills to the bucket bags to the titanium coffee mugs has been designed to collapse or stack with origami-like precision. On a Friday evening, a manager demonstrated the way to assemble a tent, while a model named Hunter and several of his friends looked on and chatted with customers. The scene is cool, but — perhaps because of the earnest appreciation of nature and travel — not intimidating. “That same model, after she bought clothes here, came back and bought a titanium spork,” said County. “She didn’t want to use plastic at home.”
*This article appears in the August 5, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!