“I’m one of those types that if you implant an idea in my brain, I can’t get rid of it,” said Christina Saboe, owner of Fireside Camp Supply located on South Street.
Her two-year-old camping supply boutique puts a spin on the traditional army green camping gear. Fireside Camp Supply is the store with an outdoorsy and natural raw-finished wood exterior and an inside filled with tents, sleeping bags, camping apparel and tons of unique camping trinkets.
Colorful, happy and youthful is how Saboe describes her store.
Saboe designed Fireside Camp Supply as a two-part store – half of the store is camping equipment for people who are avid campers. The other half is a gift shop with outdoorsy themed items.
“We do really well around the holidays,” she explained. “I’d say my main markets are young, adventurous families, a lot of transplants in this neighborhood.”
Although Philadelphia may not be known for camping, Saboe said her market includes passionate campers from the city, “who just are really excited for something other than an REI that you have to drive to.”
Saboe said that her job is largely just public relations at this point, getting the idea of her store out to a wider audience.
For Saboe, finding her ultimate passion did not come directly after college, where she studied art history art history. She hoped to work in museums as an archivist or curator.
“Then I realized one day that I didn’t want to be in a basement with artificial lighting forever,” she said.
Saboe had a lightbulb moment that connected her love for camping to the entrepreneurial world.
“I really like the family values involved with camping,” she said. “I think this is a very American pastime that is really great and I hope that many families to come can experience what I had as a child. That’s my goal.”
She decided to open a camping store in the city.
Saboe’s love for the outdoors and Philadelphia pride is shown every Thursday evening, when she opens Fireside Camp Supply’s back patio to Greensgrow farms as a satellite pickup location for their produce shareholders.
The patio is strung with lights and outfitted with a tent that covers crates of freshly picked greens, fruits and vegetables. Participants in the program sign up for a food share, allowing them to pick up fresh, locally-grown produce and farm goods.
“I get it every week,” said Chris Giannini as he picked up his share. “It’s super handy, really fresh and delicious.”
Saboe said the program is great for business.
“It pulls in a lot of newbies,” she said. “A lot of people go home and tell their husbands to pick up next week, so they get to come in and see the shop.”
She said that people will browse when they come to pickup their shares.
On any given day, Fireside Camp Supply is sure to have customers just visit and chat with Saboe.
“I have a lot of people who just love to come and talk to me for a very long time,” she said. “But they’re not here to buy anything.”
Saboe’s work does not end with ordering inventory, sending emails and managing her store. She sometimes gives tips on camping.
“There are a lot of novice campers around here,” she said. “I find myself getting caught up in telling people where to go, what to do and try to help people along the process.”
– Text, video and images by Jenna Leo and Marnice Davis.
I live in Virginia, and know folks here who have been to Chris’s Store in Phila. And rave about it….