ROCKY OUTDOOR GEAR STORE

Appalachian Ohio is filled with rugged hills, scenic views and plenty of outdoor experiences, and the biggest enthusiasts have long known where to find the best gear suited for their ventures into the wild. 

Nestled into the heart of Hocking Valley, Rocky, a leading manufacturer of premium shoes, boots and outdoor gear, was established in Nelsonville in 1932 by William Brooks as the William Brooks Shoe Company. While products have undergone dramatic changes over the past seven decades, the company’s dedication to innovation, quality and durability has remained steadfast. 

“It’s a real joy to come to the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store and meet people from all over Ohio and the Midwest who take interest and pride in wearing our shoes and boots,” said Mike Brooks, Rocky’s current chairman, president and CEO. “It’s a testament to the legacy of my great uncle William, my grandfather F.M. ‘Mike’ Brooks and my father John, who were committed to producing only the finest quality products for this community.” 

A giant mural of a big horn sheep, an image now synonymous with the brand, greets visitors to the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store, which is found inside one of the company’s now-remodeled original factories. The service at the outlet store is as charming and friendly as historic downtown Nelsonville. 

Falling on hard times, brothers William and F.M. “Mike” Brooks took a leap of faith during the Great Depression and moved their families from Columbus to Nelsonville to start what would become Rocky in a shoe factory in southeastern Ohio.  

Even though business grew throughout the ’40s and ’50s and the company supplied more than one million pairs of shoes and boots for servicemen in World War II and the Korean War, the company was sold in 1959. 

John Brooks, son and nephew to the founders, bought back the company in 1975 and reopened operations in Nelsonville. He planned to run a small family business, but the vision of his son, Mike, would take the company to unseen heights.  

By the late 1970s, Mike Brooks decided it was time for the company to have its own brand name. Looking for name that matched their products, he chose Rocky – the name the company would eventually take in 1993.  

The brand continued to enjoy growth throughout the ’80s and ’90s, and the company was soon selling shoes and boots at retailers across the nation, which prompted them to expand production to include Western and work footwear. 

In 2005, Rocky acquired EJ Footwear, bringing brands Georgia Boot, Durango, Lehigh and a license for Dickies into the family. The next year, Rocky changed its name to Rocky Brands to reflect its diversified portfolio, which now includes comfort line zümfoot and Michelin Footwear. 

Even though Rocky has become an international company, their values remain homegrown where it all began in Nelsonville, Ohio. 

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