Grasshaven offers ‘glamour’ for campers

BOULDER – Ready to take the family glamping?

Local “camping and outdoor style diva” Dawn Bitz on Thursday opened Grasshaven, a camping-gear shop in Gunbarrel geared toward people who want to go camping without sacrificing some of the comforts of home.

Glamping, or glamorous camping, is a trend that adds style and strips away some of the roughing-it aspects of the camping experience.

Grasshaven is an extension of, a retail site that Bitz has operated for a little more than a year selling camping products. Bitz also operates a retail space at the Garden of the Gods campground in Colorado Springs.

Her new 2,800-square-foot store will is at 6565 Gunpark Drive in an adjoining space with the Page Two Café. Bitz has worked out an arrangement that includes Page Two employees operating Grasshaven.

Grasshaven will be open 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. A grand opening celebration is slated for 5 p.m. Thursday, March 20.

“This is much more the complete Grasshaven experience,” Bitz said, comparing the new store to the one in Colorado Springs and the website.

Bitz – who spent 15 years in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries, including time at Covidien in Gunbarrel – said the idea with Grasshaven is to help campers create a middle ground between glamping and regular roughing it in the woods.

Adding some of the amenities of home to the camping experience, Bitz said, will help get more moms and women outdoors. So she sells items such as a kitchen set that includes a sink, nine square feet of counter space, a spice rack and trash can that all folds into a suitcase. In addition, there’s housewares, games for kids and pet products.

But there are also innovative products like easy-assembly tents that set up in about 60 seconds.

“We’re mom-inclusive but not dad-exclusive,´ said Bitz, who lives in Gunbarrel.

A large chunk of the camping market, she said, includes the segments of car, recreational vehicle and backyard campers who are looking for simplicity. That’s the market she’s going for. Not everyone, after all, is looking to hike a 14er with their outdoors experience, especially those with small children.

“What we are trying to offer is a very comfortable home away from home experience where you don’t have to sacrifice and all you do is enjoy the outdoors,” Bitz said.

Bitz left her job at Covidien in 2012 to start her company, launching the website in January last year. She declined to disclose startup costs, but said revenue has reached into the six-figures so far. She projects 2014 to be her “break-even” year.

In addition to the retail store, she will open a Grasshaven kiosk at an RV retailer in Amarillo, Texas in two weeks. She’s in serious discussions with three more dealerships and talking with several more about doing the same. Other retail stores could follow.

“We want to make sure and see how the store here in Boulder is doing,” Bitz said. “But the sky is the limit.”