When Blue Line Bike Lab owner and Oak Forest resident Fred Zapalac moved into his new shop on Yale Street in October 2018, he wasn’t utilizing all the space in the building he’d purchased.
This month, however, Zapalac and partner Kevin Chenevert, who lives in the Heights, have opened Wandering Star Adventure Emporium, a 1,500 square feet shop that will offer specialty outdoor clothing and light camping gear at 1504 B Yale St.
“It’s the stuff we like,” Zapalac said.
Zapalac said the closest place for Heights residents to get outdoor apparel was the Whole Earth Provision Co. on South Shepherd Drive. About 80 percent of the Wandering Star store will be clothing, with the other 20 percent equipment.
Zapalac said the emphasis on gear is not the high-end technical equipment that will get you to the top of Mount Everest.
“But if you’re going somewhere hiking for the weekend, I can sell you a backpack,” Chenevert said.
The casual outdoor clothing comes from unique brands like prAna, HippyTree and Howler Brothers. Chenevert said he and Zapalac know the owners of nearby stores Manready Mercantile on 19th Street and Reserve Supply Company on Washington Avenue and don’t want to compete with them.
“It’s important to us to stay in our lane,” Chenevert said. “We want to offer a quality product that you can’t find on Amazon and as American made as possible with a good price point.”
Chenevert, who is finishing his term as president of the Houston Heights Association next month, also is the owner of Green Swallow Creations, doing screen printing and embroidery. He got to talking to Zapalac about the space next to Blue Line and found they had an aligned vision for the things they wanted to see in a store.
Zapalac said he sees a lot of crossover benefit of being next to the bike store and takes the lessons he’s learned there, namely that “customer service is number one.”
He also said that because of his involvement with BikeHouston and Chenevert’s time with the HHA, there is a strong community aspect to the store.
Although most of the store this week is men’s clothing, a shipment of women’s clothing just arrived and will be available this weekend.
For the next few weeks, the store will maintain the same hours as Blue Line Bike Lab. A grand opening is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 23.
For more information and updates, visit Wandering Star Adventure Emporium on Facebook.