Holiday Profile: River Rock Outfitters

Business Name: River Rock Outfitters
Location: 215 William Street
Regular Business Hours: 
Monday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Phone: 540/604-0271
Instagram: @riverrockoutfitter

Nestled within the heart of downtown Fredericksburg, River Rock Outfitter stands out for its adventurous spirit. In November 2014, April and Keith Peterson opened the small business as a veteran- and family-run outdoor retailer. Since then, they’ve cemented their place as a must-stop shop for outdoor enthusiasts.

That vibe has gained it national attention.

Earlier this year, the the U.S. Chamber of Commerce selected River Rock Outfitter as a top-seven finalist for “America’s Top Small Business.”

Along with iconic brands such as Patagonia, Fits Socks and Outdoor Research, the shop also features its own collection—hats, shirts and hoodies—that’s featured throughout the store. Near the back of the store, you’re able to find smaller necessities such as water bottles, fleece hats, warm socks and shoes to fit any outdoor scenario you’re planning for.

The shop blends the modern retail experience with the essence of nature. There’s a hardwood floor that enhances the cabin-like feel the Petersons have created.

From the front, you’re surprised by how the store unfolds inside – if you think you’ve seen everything, think again. To the left side of the store, a ramp leads you to a consignment section. It’s the kind of store that’s walkable, allowing shoppers to stroll and find that just-so item to walk out the door with.

If you’re interested in dropping off your re-usable outdoor gear, the store has a consignment program. Simply visit the website and complete a form for each item.

Three Questions for the Owner

FXBG Advance: What makes your business unique?

April Peterson: What we sell is not unique – you can purchase what we sell in many places.  For this reason, we knew we had to provide a level of customer service different from our competitors. In everything we do – from how we purchase, merchandise the store, hire and train employees, etc. – we strive to provide the highest level of customer experience. We offer sit-and-fit service in our footwear department, professional backpack fitting, and hands-on training on any of our shop gear.

We often say that we can’t out-Target, Target or out-Amazon, Amazon. What we must do is what our competitors can’t do or won’t do – and that’s to provide exceptional customer experience at every touchpoint in our store.

FXBG Advance: How else are you involved in the community?

April Peterson: Since River Rock’s inception, we’ve worked to not only benefit our business but to support the revitalization of our downtown and community’s outdoor recreation economy. I served as President of Fredericksburg Downtown Main Street from 2019-2021, during one of the most challenging times for small businesses. We’ve worked to establish River Rock as an anchor business and as a positive example for downtown businesses.

This is not entirely altruistic. We recognize that downtown communities sink or swim together and it is important that we all thrive. When you operate downtown, you don’t operate alone. We take community over competition seriously and work to establish ourselves as a partner and role model to inspire and support our downtown community. Long after we are gone, I want River Rock to be remembered for our community service and the mark we left on our environment – not just our retail success.

FXBG Advance: What’s your vision for the next five years?

April Peterson: We are definitely at a crossroads. Do we expand our current site in downtown? Do we open another location? Do we expand our e-commerce presence? Or do we open a spin-off business? It’s overwhelming and exciting when you consider all the many options we have. Our team has worked really hard to put ourselves in a position to have choices. Now we just have to follow our gut and hearts to determine what’s next for our River Rock family. Stay tuned!

by Charlie Li