Celebrating 15 Years In Wayne, PA

For the History Buffs

 A few years ago, our friends at the Radnor Historical Society sent us an old photo of our storefront from back when it was a hair salon called LaCasa Hair Stylists. The picture is framed by the front door of the shop now, and it’s an awesome piece of history and a nice reminder of what came before us. With our 15 year anniversary coming up, we started thinking more about that history, not just of our store, but of the community surrounding it that’s been such an incredible part of these 15 years.

 The Main Line as it is today was vastly different before the Pennsylvania Railroad came through it in the 1860s. In fact, the term “Main Line” originated at this time, describing the direct access from Philly to the suburbs surrounding it. With this new access, more and more people in the city started summering in the country, taking the train away from the congestion of Philly and into the gorgeous towns to the west. In “The Old Main Line” (1919), J.W. Townsend wrote that, “The Main Line showed the first symptoms of getting gay when the Summit Grove Hotel, in Bryn Mawr, got well under way in the summer of 1873. The Bryn Mawr assemblies were the events of the season, with about 500 people attending each of them.” This spot was the place to be because of its local businesses that provided something special to those coming from across the state. It’s no surprise that the name stuck, and the Main Line today is similar to its beginnings in the sense that it’s a meeting point, a place to gather, a thriving community that draws people in.

 The community of Wayne itself has its origins with the railroad as well. The local farmers were spread far and wide and long-distance roads connected inns, but there was little infrastructure to create the kind of community we have here now. Between the years of 1864 and 1870, in the early days of the Pennsylvania Railroad, James Henry Askin bought 293 acres of farm land and developed them into a residential community called Louella in what is now the center of Wayne. Like other towns along the Main Line, Wayne quickly became a summer resort with its very own railroad stop.

 The town continued to develop from there, and in 1924 the building that Out There Outfitters now occupies at 123 North Wayne Avenue was constructed as Wayne’s post office. It served the community until 1940, when the present post office was built. In 1964 Charles LaSpina opened his beauty shop, LaCasa Hair Stylists, which many of our customers remember! It was one of the area’s largest, boasting 25 chairs and an excellent staff that included Charles, himself. If anyone recollects any occupants between La Casa and Ashton Whyte, we would love the information.

 15 years ago, in 2008, Zeke and Tory opened Out There Outfitters. They had experience running another outdoor store in Florida prior to opening OTO and conducted extensive research to find Wayne as the perfect location for their concept shop.  From the beginning, Out There was successful and well-received by the community.  A retail store cannot succeed without customers so we owe a great deal to the locals who have continued to shop at Out There Outfitters.  As Zeke said the day he sold the shop to Sarah and Heidi, “The community always comes through.” We inherited a beautiful space with hardwood floors and steel framing that allows us to creatively display our merchandise.

 Sarah and Heidi took over in 2018, and after all the success the store had seen, they were excited to build on that legacy and build their own bridge to the community. They’d only been running the store for a year and a half when the pandemic forced them to close the doors, and though it was a scary time, the response from the community was overwhelming. Sarah and Heidi decided that if folks couldn’t come to the store, the store would have to go online. Finding a way to connect and share the love of the outdoors even in such an isolated time was important to so many people, and it was a true testament to the community who continued to support this business even through that difficult time. The online shop has turned out to be an important aspect of our business model, especially for locals who can search our inventory from the comfort of their own home or office.

 As many brick-and-mortar stores struggle to stay in business, we are finding our customers still search for service and popular brands and enjoy discovering new brands as much as we do!   We feel fortunate to be in this community that values service and in-person shopping. We are also fortunate to have reasonable and fair landlords, when many small businesses are struggling to afford high rents, which are contributing to the ill fate of brick-and-mortar stores. We would also like to give a shout out to the Wayne Business Association for their support of our business: from promoting our events to hosting many popular community events throughout the year that bring crowds of shoppers and foodies to our town.  Wayne is a town full of fabulous restaurants and boutiques and we are proud to be the local outdoor lifestyle shop.  It’s a true community partnership.

 Our customers have good taste, active lifestyles, and families and they like to support local.  They aspire to the outdoor lifestyle of casual, relaxed, comfortable , yet stylish and in-fashion clothing.  These characteristics allow Sarah and Heidi to live their dream of owning a small business and encourages them to continue finding the goods that customers want.


I talked to Matt, our merchandiser and general creative genius, about what sets this store apart in his experience, and the first thing he responded with was, " What certainly does make this experience unique compared to other places one could work is that we do have the opportunity to work with the same families over and over and over again, which can be pretty fun. I think it's fun to have an opportunity to have a follow-up conversation with a client or a family about, 'Oh I do remember the last time you were in here you were going to Ibiza, how was that?'" Even before he joined the team, Matt said he was always attracted to the store as a customer, since it was the best place to get a decent selection of Patagonia. "I find that this store has a pretty perfect balance assortment wise where the shop looks like an actual customer's life. I love going to the REIs of the world, but that doesn’t look like anyone's life. Having a real combination of lifestyle products and polos and also technical jackets, that’s actually how people live and I think that’s part of why it's been as successful as it has been."

 If you've been to the store more than once you've probably also met Connor, who, outside of being an excellent coworker, is also a brilliant photographer. As one of the most tenured members of our team, he's seen firsthand the way the store has grown. "It has been really cool to watch how much the shop has grown over the 5-6 years we’ve been here. The little things like putting lights in the basement and knocking a hole in the wall in the dungeon, putting lights in the shoe section, not having to do restock by hand every hour. And watching the dog wall grow, we're running out of space up there!" It's a small, tight knit community here, and it's been cool to bump into customers while he's picking up lunch at Tredici or getting a coffee at Gryphon. "It's definitely a personal experience, I have some customers who’ve been coming here since before I started here."

I want to thank Greg and Jennifer from the Radnor Historical Society for their help in researching the history in this little piece. There are so many cool resources online at radnorhistory.org, and it was a lot of fun getting to dig into some of it.

 And thanks to this wonderful community, we wouldn't be celebrating 15 years without you!  Cheers to the next 15!

Written by: Sam Sontag

Come celebrate our 15th Anniversary on Saturday, July 29 and Sunday, July 30.  Enjoy food and drink, prizes and a sale!