Mary Beth Sutton has found a way add some “fun” to fundraising.

An environmental educator and the founder of two clean water education organizations, Sutton recently openedan outdoor gear resale shop-aptly named The Gear Closet­-on Chattanooga’s North Shore. Her goal is twofold: to help recycle gently used outdoor gear and equipment, as well as to raise funds to support her two nonprofit organizations, TenneSEA and CaribbeanSEA.

If you go

What:Beer for Gear, a gear-raising event for The Gear Closet

When:Saturday, Nov. 17, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.

Where:The Gear Closet, 535 Cherokee Blvd.

The shop, which opened at 535 Cherokee Blvd. in September, accepts tax-deductible donations of gently used outdoor gear and apparel, as well as items for consignment. All items are sold at resale prices in order to provide the community with low-cost outdoor gear options and to support clean water education efforts in Chattanooga and the Caribbean though the efforts of TenneSEA and CaribbeanSEA.

“Chattanooga is such a fabulous outdoor mecca, and The Gear Closet aims to provide affordable outdoor gear so everyone can get outside and enjoy the great outdoors in the region,” Sutton said. “Best of all, 100 percent of the proceeds from sales at The Gear Closet support clean water education efforts in the Chattanooga area and the Caribbean.”

Sutton founded CaribbeanSEA eight years ago in an effort to empower young people in the Caribbean countries of St. Lucia, Dominica, Belize, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Curacao and Jamaica to protect their water. She expanded clean water programs to her hometown of Chattanooga three years ago through the creation of the Tennessee Student Environmental Alliance (TenneSEA), which provides stormwater education programs, water-monitoring activities for schools and communities, and Kids 4 Clean Water camp programs each summer.

“The Gear Closet is a creative way to support clean water education efforts in the Tennessee Valley and the Caribbean,” Sutton said. “Each donation and purchase makes a difference-it’s a resale shop with a purpose.”

The Gear Closet accepts a wide range of outdoor gear and equipment, as well as outdoor clothing for adults and kids. Consignment items are also welcome.

Sutton said she hopes to stock the store with everything related to the outdoors, from technical gear to everyday outdoor equipment.

In celebration of America Recycles Day on Nov. 15, a community-drive initiative that promotes recycling throughout the United States, The Gear Closet is hosting a gear-raising celebration at the store and partnering with agencies across the county to help promote recycling and reusing gently used outdoor gear and equipment.

On Saturday, Nov. 17 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., The Gear Closet will host Beer for Gear, a gear-raising event intended to stock the shop for the benefit of clean water. The public is invited to visit the shop, make a donation of outdoor gear, and enjoy live music and drinks provided by the Chattanooga Brewing Company.

For more information, visit

Additionally, from Nov. 10 through Nov. 17, the Chattanooga’s recycling centers will accept outdoor gear in an effort to promote finding useful outlets for reusable items. Donations of outdoor gear and apparel related to camping, climbing, biking, boating, canoeing, horseback riding and outdoor leisure games can be made at recycling centers throughout the city. All items will be donated to The Gear Closet. For a complete list of recycling centers in Chattanooga, click here.

Throughout the year, donations for The Gear Closet can be made at the following drop-off locations: Outdoor Chattanooga, located at 200 River St. in downtown Chattanooga; Leisure Time Dive & Ski Center, located at 3520 Brainerd Road in Chattanooga; and the Mountain Arts Community Center, located at 809 Kentucky Ave. on Signal Mountain.

The Gear Closet is open Thursdays and Fridays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit

Jenni Frankenberg Veal is a freelance writer and naturalist living on Walden’s Ridge, whose writing interests include conservation, outdoor travel and sustainable living. Visit her blog at