Taos Mountain Outfitters opened back in 1969 and is one of the longest operating businesses on the Taos Plaza. The first location was across the Plaza where Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory is located today. In the late 1970’s TMO became the first store in New Mexico to carry products from a small company called Chouinard Equipment which was named for its founder, Yvon Chouinard. Today Chouinard Equipment is better known as Patagonia and we are still one of the largest dealers in New Mexico!
In 1981, Dick and Lynn Schroeder moved TMO next door to 114 South Plaza where it operated until 2014 when Sean and Kara, the current owners, moved across the Plaza to our current spot on the sunny side of the street!
The reason for the move was to give us more space to consolidate our two stores – TMO and The Good Sole which was the largest shoe store in Taos. The Good Sole had been operating a few miles south of the Plaza and we decided to bring the two stores together and create a one-stop shop for the most comfortable and functional footwear, outdoor apparel and gear. In our new space, we are now the largest independent outdoor and footwear store in New Mexico. Welcome to the new Taos Mountain Outfitters!
You Are Standing in a Very Historic Spot!
The historic Taos Plaza has been the center of life in Taos for well over 300 years. The Spanish designed it to be a square with windows and doors facing inward and just a few entry points for protection. In later centuries, protection became less critical and the Plaza became the center of commerce and government with a more open and welcoming feel.
In 1932, a disastrous fire destroyed most of the buildings on the north side of the Plaza. Our current building was completed in 1934 by the Burch family (you can still see their name on the front) who operated a general store here until the late 1940’s when John McCarthy bought it.
John originally opened a grocery store here called El Mercado. In 1950, he converted to a five and dime store and later expanded with a hardware store in the basement. The McCarthy family sold everything from tools to appliances to bicycles and El Mercado was THE place to shop in Taos.
All went well until the late 1980’s when Walmart came to town and drove many independent businesses out or forced them to change. By this time, Tom and Barbara McCarthy were running the business and they converted El Mercado to a gift store that catered to the booming tourist market.
Barbara and Tom continued to operate El Mercado until 2014 when they decided to focus on running their Casa Benavides Bed and Breakfast just up the street. This was a tough decision for them since El Mercado had been part of the McCarthy family for almost 70 years. But we are eternally grateful to them for choosing to let us transform this historic location into the home of Taos Mountain Outfitters!
The Beer Cans
Many people ask about the beer can collection that is prominently displayed around TMO. The start of the beer can tradition goes back to 1976 when Dick and Lynn Schroeder spent four months traveling the country, living in a tent and searching for vintage beer cans. Yep this is a true story!
In 1977, Dick and Lynn took over as owners of TMO and they displayed the cans in the store for the next 23 years.
In 2000, Jonah Salloway bought TMO and added to the collection. In 2011, when Kara and Sean took over, they combined Jonah’s cans with a collection that Sean had from his boyhood in South Dakota. The collection you see today has cans from the combined collections of Dick, Lynn, Jonah and Sean.
So the TMO collection dates back to the 1970’s but some of the cans go all the way back to the 1930’s. And they are a big part of the history and culture of the oldest outdoor store in Taos! Stop by and see our collection today.