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Chester County Press

Kennett Square’s Trail Creek Outfitters stands ready for the winter chill

01/10/2022 10:52PM ● By Steven Hoffman

Trail Creek Outfitters is a place that can clothe a person for the wickedest winter conditions, and they can do it with comfort and style. Along with that, they are generous supporters of the community and open space initiatives as well. 

Trail Creek Outfitters in Kennett Square is the offshoot of the 10,000-square-foot parent store of the same name in Glen Mills. It sits among the shops on the west side of the borough’s State Street.

Owner Ed Camelli, 64, of Highland Township, is a fan of the outdoors and has been all his life. He loves hunting, fishing and hiking and said, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”

Keying off that affection for the out-of-doors, he and his late partner Brian Havertine in 1983 began a company in Wilmington that sells outdoor gear, apparel and footwear – kind of a smallish LL Bean.

Soon after the start in Delaware, they moved to Glen Mills, where the parent store sits now, and created a 10,000-square-foot operation at Glen Eagle Square.

Buoyed by their success, in 2017, they made the decision to create a small, 1000-square-foot popup location for Christmastime along State Street in Kennett Square…just for the season.

It was so successful and well received that they decided to stay. Today, anyone looking for the right garb to handle outdoor adventure in the Kennett Square area can find it at Trail Creek. 

The atmosphere at Trail Creek Outfitters is one that prompts customers to pursue an outdoor adventure. 

The store is filled with items for outdoor adventures like down jackets, backpacks and hiking gear. This time of year, the cozy, wool socks sell fast.

“There’s not a weather we can imagine that they can’t accommodate,” Camelli said.

Sales associate Julia Steiner pointed to a rack of sweatpants and explained that they were lightweight but able to handle the coldest conditions. “You can put them on in the fall and keep them on all winter,” she said.

For those who seek hiking shoes, they won’t find them at the Kennett store. Camelli said that’s because the small space cannot hold the inventory in the borough. But the shoes can be found at the Glen Mills location, he said. 

Camelli, who runs the operation with Havertine’s widow, Joanne, said he cannot remember a time when he did not love the outdoors. When he was a child, he would go out to play in the morning and stay there all day. Toward evening, his mother would blow a high-pitched whistle and beckon him back to the house.

He doesn’t shy away from severe weather. He’s out daily with his blonde lab and embraces the cold. His affection for the Kennett Square community doesn’t end with selling folks warm clothing. He has a “1 percent for Kennett” practice. 

One-percent of all sales in the Kennett Square store is donated to a local non-profit organization. He’s been doing this for eight years, he said. Some of the recipients have included the KACS food bank, Camp Dreamcatcher, Brandywine Red Clay Alliance, and the Kennett Library.   

Camelli is also the chairman of the Land Conservancy of Southern Chester County which advocates for land preservation and conservation. Before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his associates ran an educational movie series on prudent land use at the Myrick Conservation Center, in the outdoors, during the summer.

Camelli said he is happy to keep overseeing his two stores and will continue in that model. What is more important to him is responding to the needs of his customers. “We have two ears and one mouth,” he said, adding that the direction of the stores is guided by what his customers want and what they tell him.