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Community Highlights: Meet Curtis Drayton & Elena Martinez of BaseCamp General Store

Today we’d like to introduce you to Curtis Drayton & Elena Martinez.

Hi Curtis & Elena, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
When Elena and I bought our mountain getaway home two and a half years ago, we would have never predicted the creation of our first retail establishment as a result. After ten years of vigorously traveling for work, a new city every week and basically living out of a suitcase, it was time to buy a place that we could relax in during our time off. Nowhere in the US was off limits and the possibilities were endless. Our event staffing agency, Models On Demand Inc. was completely mobile and could be ran from anywhere in the world. I love working with my hands and Elena has a passion for home design, so we began looking for a fixer. By an act of fate or destiny we found the perfect place here in the SoCal mountains.

Fast forward six months and the event industry was still dry, no calls or signs of any upcoming events. Covid lockdowns and quarantines basically shutdown the entire event industry, our bread and butter. Not realizing how long this would last, we carried on fixing up the house and realized maybe it was time to switch gears for a bit. We began soul searching. Through our years of travel and love for antiques, we always dreamt of someday having a little shop of our own. Something that emulated the kind of shops we would seek out while on traveling on the road. It didn’t have to be large or fancy, yet something that would be unique and a place where tourists and locals alike could connect through community.

We were looking for the signs and didn’t want to force the hunt. Then, one day we were out randomly seeking supplies for our deck remodel, and we stumbled upon an old vacant gas station with a huge for lease sign. This was calling out to us….the building, location, everything was suiting to our vision. We immediately called the number and set up a meeting with the owner. We spent the next week driving up and parking across the street for hours simply monitoring the foot traffic to ensure it was a good location. The rest is history!

The shop has enabled us to connect with other like-minded local entrepreneurs and we have continued to see the area blossom with more new small businesses.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
It was definitely challenging starting in the middle of a global pandemic. Some of our concerns; would people going to feel comfortable to leave their houses and shop, was this something the mountain community would support and appreciate. Luckily for us, people were fleeing the city and heading to the mountains to getaway, so it was the perfect formula.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about BaseCamp General Store?
Basecamp General Store is located in the San Bernardino Mountains just about an hour and half from most major Socal cities. We are a small modern day general store which resides in an old 1960’s gas station. We offer unique gifts, gourmet snacks, various kombuchas, coffees, along with vintage goods focusing on camping and mountain styles. We also offer Adventure Passes for the outdoor adventurous types, which are required while visiting some areas in the San Bernardino National Forest. In the winter, we offer more holiday gifts and even sleds for those who want to enjoy the seasonal snow.

We envisioned Basecamp as a place where locals and tourists alike could congregate and connect with people in the community through workshops, pop up’s and even local farmer’s markets. We continue to plan more of these within the near future!

What are your plans for the future?
Our next venture is currently in the works. We have started slow remodeling on a 1958 canned ham trailer and have a few different ideas we are brainstorming on. We want to focus on going back to our roots a bit by offering rustic and vintage event rentals here on the mountain. There are truly many hidden gems around here that are great for hosting weddings and special events. We plan to offer everything from vintage chairs, trunks, rustic camping and bohemian packages as well as utilizing the vintage trailer possibly for rent.

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