Best Outdoor Outfitters 

Half-Moon Outfitters

Half-Moon Outfitters

Downtown. 280 King St. 853-0990

Mt. Pleasant. 425 Coleman Blvd. 881-9472

At 22 years old in 1993, Beezer Molten thought he'd spend the next decade backpacking the world or maybe move out to Colorado. Instead he started Half-Moon Outfitters, the outdoor gear store that just finished renovating a Park Circle warehouse into what may be South Carolina's first U.S. Green Building Council LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Platinum building.

Molten worked at a Chapel Hill, N.C., outfitter called the Trail Shop during college, followed by a similar retail job at Big Planet Adventures in the Virgin Islands. "I wrote a business plan for a store, basically to keep me out of bars at night," says Molten. He sent it off to Patagonia clothing, they accepted it, and he changed his traveling plans, opening the first Half-Moon on Market Street in February 1993.

Half-Moon stores now exist in Mt. Pleasant, Columbia, Greenville, and Savannah, in addition to the high-profile location on King Street. The five locations employ over 75 people, the "heart and soul" of the company, according to Molten. He plans to open more shops in the Southeast, but for now is focusing on "trying to get an internet presence," a goal in line with their new distribution center.

In seventh grade, Molten's science fair project was on solar energy, but the judges didn't award him any prizes because his family had solar panels on their house and they figured his father had participated too much. "That really ticked me off at the time," says Molten. "It's sort of been a mission of mine to build a green building."

The location of the new warehouse, a renovated grocery store, is well-oriented for letting light in during winter and blocking light, and thus heat, in the summer. Rainwater collection for irrigation and toilets, natural insulation and paints, and renewable and recycled building materials are all incorporated into the construction.

Platinum is LEED's highest certification, requiring 52 of 69 criteria on their list, and Half-Moon's application meets 54 of these. Points are precious, and one pint of the wrong type of paint can cost you. Only 20 Platinum projects are currently underway in the U.S., and no others in S.C.

Although building green costs 30 percent more than a typical project, Molten believes Half-Moon will recoup the added expenses within five to seven years through the building's energy efficiency. After that, it's all savings.

For Molten and Half-Moon, it's just about "being the best we possibly can at what we do." Now that the company is 14 years old and well out of start-up mode, Molten hopes to incorporate LEED techniques into stores, and has the goal of being "carbon neutral" in their energy use, meaning they offset their emissions from coal-burning power plants by purchasing "energy credits" from non-emitting sources. When your product helps people to enjoy nature, it's only logical to protect it any way you can.


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