Albert the Dog in Central Park NYC

Review: Eastern Mountain Sports [updated]

TREATS:  1 out of 4 (supposedly)


Unlike their main competitor, REI, Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) sometimes allows dogs in their stores.*  It may surprise some of my readers who think of New York as a Hellscape land of skyscrapers and asphalt to learn that the city even has an EMS store, let alone two (one in Soho and one on the Upper West Side). But even we city dogs like to explore the great outdoors, whether within city limits or in nearby areas. And when we do, we and our People need the right gear.

I was doing just that kind of urban exploring one afternoon last week in Central Park. The day was beautiful, crisp, and sunny, and the Bridle Path was just muddy enough for me to kick up satisfying clumps of dirt. A host of intriguing odors greeted me as we meandered through the park—not just dog pee, but decaying leaves, damp grass, horse manure, and the recently deposited sweat of more than fifty thousand marathoners. My friends, it was a delicious afternoon.  After a long romp, the Lady and I finally headed west to EMS in order to peruse their wares.

It has been a while since I visited this store. The last time was on the way to a Discover Outdoors hiking trip to Harriman State Park (you can read all about that adventure here).  I didn’t recall many details from that brief stop, but like many doomed adventurers, I began this journey brimming with optimism.

Eastern Mountain Sports Dog-Friendly New York

What could possibly go wrong?

The flooring in this EMS is bare, which is no doubt cool in the hot summer months but might be less welcome to dogs with joint issues (but probably they aren’t going on hikes anyways).  Most of the products are on the second floor.  As an apartment dog, I don’t often climb stairs, so I relish every chance I get. The EMS staircase is nice and wide, with steps that are easily managed even by a diminutive fellow like me.

Albert at dog-friendly EMS New York

Midway through my ascent, still full of hope.

Upstairs, there is quite a lot of clothing and footwear for humans to protect all the various parts of their bizarrely inefficient bodies from whatever nature may throw at them.  There is even some adventure paraphernalia for dogs, including leashes, travel bottles, harnesses, and jackets (mostly for the bigger guys).  On top of all that, they have a plethora of items that can help you survive in the wild.

These lanterns could be useful on a future camping trip--or the next time a ConEd transformer explodes.

These lanterns could be useful on a future camping trip–or the next time a ConEd transformer explodes.

So far, all was going well. I was having a fine time breathing in the mingled aromas of wool, alpaca, and polyester microfleece.  The EMS humans were friendly but not excessively so, being somewhat engaged with other customers. Satisfied with the socks she had found, the Lady said it was time to begin our trek back down the stairs to the main floor. As She was paying, the very friendly checkout human noticed me (okay, I was jumping up and down on my hind legs at this point) and said…

“Oh, did you go up to the second floor?”

“Yes,” said the Lady.

“Oh good, so he got a treat.”

Note that this was a statement, not a question, yet the Lady did nothing to rectify the young checkout human’s misapprehension. I should point out that at no point during our visit to the second floor did anyone offer me a treat (granted, we were not buying or trying on any dog gear, which may be a prerequisite).  I thought that maybe we could try again, so I desperately tried to get their attention, but it became clear that the Lady had no intention of making another ascent. She said something to the effect of “You get enough treats.” The checkout human, meanwhile, was suddenly too busy discussing the finer points of his favorite carabiners to notice my urgent pleas.

The Lady with her bag full of socks and I with my empty belly were done for the day.

Therefore, as much as it pains me to do this, I am forced to bring this to the attention of EMS headquarters.

Dear Sirs and Madams, you clearly aspire to be a dog-friendly adventure outfitter. As such, I beg you to recognize and immediately resolve the treats crisis at your Upper West Side location. What sense does it make to have dog treats only on the second floor of your store—and presumably accessible only through some kind of password system, like some sort of canine speakeasy? What if I were older and unable to climb the stairs? What if we were stopping in only to pick up a North Face ThermoBall Remix Vest ($149) and a Probar Oatmeal Raisin Energy Bar ($3.29), both available on the ground floor?  I wouldn’t get a treat?

Don’t you humans see what’s going on here?  YOU HAVE NO TREATS AT BASE CAMP.

I eagerly await your response to this worrisome situation.

In sum:

Pros: Treats supposedly available, fun stairs to climb, atmosphere makes me feel rugged and adventurous

Cons: Treat distribution problems

*As always, we recommend that you check with individual locations to confirm their pet policies.

Eastern Mountain Sports is at 2152 Broadway (at 76th St.) on the Upper West Side

UPDATE: I have a received a response via Twitter from the humanoid who runs the EMS account (I refuse to believe this is an actual human):

So consider yourselves forewarned.

EMS humanoid, please don’t be angry with me. I’m sorry if I overreacted about what even you must admit is questionable treats supply chain management.