Mudd-N-Flood Mountain Shop is a small store with a broad appeal. Among their loyal customers are outdoor enthusiasts who go there to buy camping and rock climbing equipment, tourists that need hats and good walking shoes, local ladies in search of chic clothing, and friends like writer John Nichols, who just passed by to say hi.
“We have something for everyone,” said co-owner Elana Lombard.
Mudd-N-Flood is a family business. Lombard and her husband Chris Pieper bought it in 2001, shortly after moving to Taos.
“Chris and I used to teach high school science together in the Bay area,” said Lombard. “After getting married, we started looking for our ideal place to live. We came to Taos to visit a friend and fell in love with the town and its people.”
Two years later they took a huge leap of faith, Lombard said, and moved here.
“Then we bought the store and have continued working together since,” she said.
They are an entrepreneurial family. Besides owning Mudd-N-Flood, Lombard and Pieper have an organic farm in Arroyo Seco. Pieper also has a small business selling a water technology called Grander that significantly reduces the need for chemicals in hot tubs.
When asked about their business secrets, Lombard stresses the importance of being friendly and helpful to clients.
“We do our best to offer excellent customer service,” she said. “Having a variety of products to serve people’s needs is a key element too.”
“We have the latest in outdoor gear and clothing for hiking, camping, backpacking, rock-climbing, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing,” said Pieper.
“We sell stylish everyday clothing too, for both men and women,” said Lombard.
Among the most popular brand names sold at Mudd-N-Flood are Prana, Patagonia, Kuhl, Smartwool and Santiki.
“Our clothes are comfortable and durable, and can be used in the outdoors, at the gym or in town,” said Lombard. “Our products are dependable, too. When you buy a Patagonia shirt, you know that it’s going to last years.”
Pieper adds that they choose their inventory carefully.
“We have quality products and we stand behind them,” he said. “If a customer has a problem with one of our products, we work to solve it right away. And if we don’t carry something a customer needs, we are happy to special order it.”
Currently, their best-selling items are the Santiki batik skirts and the men’s short sleeve, button-down shirts.
A shop for guys and gals
What makes Mudd-N-Flood different from other businesses, Lombard said, is the fact that they are not just focused on tourists.
“We have a very loyal local clientele that we are dedicated to serving,” she said. “We try to carry the products that anyone who enjoys the outdoors would need and have a great selection of stylish clothing that fits the Taos lifestyle.”
Lombard has found out that many men enjoy coming to the store and browsing around.
“They have told me, ‘Finally, a shop for guys too!’” Lombard said, smiling. “That makes us different as well.”
How Mudd-N-Flood has managed to stay in business
Keeping reasonable prices.
“We keep them low so the local community can afford our products,” said Lombard.
Establishing a dividend program.
“We keep track of our local clients’ purchases and when they spend 500 dollars, we give them a fifty dollar credit to spend here,” said Pieper.
Having a good location.
“We are right in the middle of things so we are easy to find,” Lombard said.
Lombard and Pieper agree on the importance of advertising, especially in this day when so many people shop on the internet.
“It’s important to keep your business in people’s minds so that they remember that Taos has many of the items people need,” Lombard said.
Their most important recommendation to future business owners is to do an extensive market research before going into business.
“Look at similar businesses and note what they are doing and how they are doing,” Lombard said. “Visit other towns and find out what has been successful for businesses there, then decide if similar ideas would work in Taos. Also, once you are established, watch your inventory. Don’t order too much of something that may not sell. Test the market and be able to respond accordingly to what does and doesn’t work.”
Sharing their passion
Lombard and Pieper often give donations to educational and outdoor oriented organizations like Taos Land Trust, Amigos Bravos and the Bridges Project.
Pieper hosts groups of students each year.
“They come from San Francisco to volunteer at Taos Pueblo and to experience life in our unique community of Taos,” he said.
Lombard believes that the most rewarding part of their business is talking to customers and sharing their enthusiasm for the outdoors.
“I started backpacking when I was 6,” she said. “My mother climbed mountains internationally and really inspired my love for the outdoors. Later, Chris and I started a guide company and led multi-day wilderness adventures in the Sierra. The outdoors are a passion for both of us and our business gives us an opportunity to be in daily contact with like-minded people.”
They offer their customers advice on trails and excursions so they can enjoy their own outdoor adventures to the fullest.
“We also provide maps and guidebooks,” said Lombard. “Mudd-N-Flood is a one-stop shop for travelers.”
“The best part of owning the store is that it gives me the opportunity to be actively involved with the community, particularly in promoting an ecological consciousness,” said Pieper.
Mudd-N-Flood is located at 103A Bent St
Phone: (575) 751-9100