If an outdoor adventure is what you're looking for, Mountain Tops in St. Charles is the place to explore first.
The store owned by David and Laura Crites sells and rents gear for camping, hiking and canoeing and kayaking. Equipment rentals and guided tours also are available at the store, which relocated to 117 W. Main St. last fall.
David Crites knows about outdoor adventures because his journey to the St. Charles business began years ago.
He first caught the bug as a youngster backpacking with Cub Scouts.
"I just kept doing it through the years," he said. "As a teen, I spent a lot of time in an outdoor store in Carbondale and spent a lot of money at the store."
That is what got him thinking about possibly owning an outdoor store.
"I thought it was a pie-in-the-sky dream," he said.
While he accumulated experience in touring through his trips over the years, he then gained his retail knowledge after college while working as a buyer for major department stores.
He soon heard through a friend of a friend that Mountain Tops was for sale. He and his wife got the money in order and bought the six-year-old business in 1996.
It's been growing since then.
"We sell everything you need to go hiking or camping," Crites said.
Merchandise includes canoes, kayaks, climbing gear, first aid equipment, water filters, suitcases that double as backpacks.
He's also investigating expanding the repair and maintenance of the canoes and kayaks portion of the business to include custom- building kayaks. …