Rock climber, cyclist, fisherman and outdoor gear retailer Jim Frank talks Ozark Outdoor Supply, favorite places to fish and the Natural State’s growing reputation as a must-visit spot for lovers of outdoor adventure.
By Michael Roberts
How long have you owned and operated Ozark Outdoor Supply? Joe Spradley opened [Ozark Outdoor Supply] back in the 70s. In 1986, our family acquired the store. Back in those days, the store had a pretty hardcore flare: Climbing gear you couldn’t find anywhere else, backpacks and tents—good quality gear, which has always been our foundation. At that time, it was just us and [Pack Rat Outdoor Center] in Fayetteville.
What sort of changes has the store experienced over the years? As things have evolved through the years, the sportswear side has risen to the forefront. Most of the clothes we sell have some kind of technical angle that you can use [in outdoor activity]. We know we can’t be a fashion store like Gap or Dillard’s, so everything has a purpose. If you’re going somewhere and you need something kind of unique or specialized, that’s what we’re probably going to be carrying.
When you’re on your own adventures, what do you like to do? I’m a biker, fisherman—I like to hike with my dog. I like to bike anywhere; Iron Mountain [on Lake DeGray near Arkadelphia] is definitely a good spot.
I don’t discriminate when I fish: I fish. I can’t envision being on the water and not fishing. I like to fish the Buffalo River for smallmouth bass. But it’s really a matter of “any time, anywhere.” Trout fishing, fly fishing, bream, crappie—I do whatever the season allows.
Do you ever combine your favorite activities and go on multi-sport adventures? Yes. For example, I’ll bust out of here early in the morning and go up to the Little Red River and fish. I’ll have my bike with me, so on the way home I’ll stop at Woolly Hollow [State Park] and hit the mountain bike trail—it’s a great 10-mile loop. So there I’ve killed two birds with one stone.
Are there any out-of-state adventures that stand out from all your travels? I fished in Chile last year, and I’m hoping to go back. We were in Patagonia, and it is worthy of a repeat visit. It’s a huge region, and it was six days of just mind-numbing fishing. Unfortunately, if you read the environmental news, humans are trying to screw it up. They’re damming up streams and there’s some deforestation and mining, too.
What do you think is the reason you and your team have had such a long, successful run in the outdoor gear business? When one of our customers goes on an adventure or trip, my goal is for them to enjoy that outing. If they don’t enjoy it because of their gear or clothing, they’re not going to do it again. It’s about having fun.
Ozark Outdoor Supply
5514 Kavanaugh Blvd.,