GYM: Riverfront Rock Gym
LOCATION: Wenatchee, Washington
OPEN YEAR: 2017
SQFT OF CLIMBING: 14,000
WHY WE’D VISIT: Paddleboard rentals, trivia nights, community partnerships, café
WHO WE SPOKE TO: Jacob Leonard, General Manager
Community Spot: Situated on the banks of Washington’s Columbia River, Riverfront Rock Gym has embodied the outdoorsy spirit its name conveys since opening in 2017. Referred to as an “outdoor activity hub” by Leonard, Riverfront’s main goal however is “expanding the community” beyond Washington’s existing base of passionate climbers. Having a café in the gym and running trivia nights and youth programs has already contributed to that goal.
“We have been able to draw a bunch of people that probably would never come to a climbing gym due to the fact that we have a café,” says Leonard. “That allows us to capture this whole other audience.”
Claim to Fame: Riverfront also taps into Wenatchee’s water sport community and may be the only climbing gym to rent paddleboards. With the Columbia River just a three-minute walk from the gym and the rising summer temperatures, the decision was a no-brainer for the management team when the lightbulb went off.
“Stewart [Hoover], one of the owners, and myself had been talking about the paddleboard craze and he mentioned that we should get some due to our location,” says Leonard. “…We’re always renting them out on hot days, especially the weekends…So it’s been a great success, great for the community.”
Fun Historical Fact: Before being reimagined as an indoor climbing gym, Riverfront’s building operated as an apple-packing house. From the gym’s beginning, the owners sought to maintain some of this history and left structural remnants of the initial homestead in tac.
“[Riverfront’s building] has a lot of history; the family built the homestead in the early 1900’s. We’ve preserved that building with all the original floors, rafters, etc.” says Leonard.
Major Happenings: Riverfront partners with Youth Dynamics, an organization supporting youth impacted by the criminal punishment system, to provide climbing and mentorship opportunities. According to Leonard, some of the program’s participants who were previously “in the juvie system” are now mentors for the program.
“They come back and help younger kids who found themselves in the same situation,” says Leonard.
Words of Wisdom: “I think the biggest tip I can give to other managers is to just build a great team,” says Leonard. “It’s all about your employees; without them, you as a manager would be nothing. Invest the time and energy into each individual employee because they’re worth it. And in the end, it’ll make your job easier.”
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