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Judy Venable surveys the contents of some of the store’s display cases. Photo by Caroline

Originally published: 2013-12-03 11:58:39
Last modified: 2013-12-03 23:39:55

Business Spotlight: PackRats in Newland has everything and then some

Caroline Harris / (

Looking at your shopping list, you see that you need a utility knife, a military-grade knapsack, a tea set and a ghillie suit. One of these things is not like the others, but luckily you can get them all at PackRats in Newland.

PackRats is a military, camping and hiking supply store that carries both new and used goods, catering to hunters, campers, hikers, tree and construction workers. The store also carries clothing and gear for emergency medical services, fire department and law enforcement personnel.

The name PackRats could not be better for this store. It is stuffed with stuff from floor to ceiling with just about anything.

Owners Denny and Judy Venable opened the store in its current location in Newland 18 years ago at the suggestion of their daughter, Denise. Their first PackRats store in northwest Florida, which they began in 1987, shifted from a high-end antique store to a household and thrift store with the economic downturn. After saying for years that they wanted to open another location in the area, Denise told her parents that, “If you put your money where your mouth is I will move to the mountains and run it.” The family did just that and 18 years later, Denise has moved on to other things but still comes up to help her parents with the store periodically.

To read the complete story, please pick up a copy of your hometown newspaper, The Avery Journal-Times, available at almost 100 locations in Newland, Banner Elk, Crossnore, Spruce Pine and Roan Mountain, Tenn. To subscribe to The Avery Journal-Times, please call (828) 733-0401 or click to