Oct 032006
Authors: AMANDA SCHANK The Rocky Mountain Collegian

It may not have been love at first sight, but it certainly was destined from the beginning.

Randy and Nancy Morgan went to the same high school and crossed a state border to attend the same college- – each lacking the knowledge that the other person even existed. They finally found each other in the most inconsequential of places, a retail shop, and the three entities began a relationship that still exists today.

In 1974, Randy, a CSU alumnus, was a senior working at Outpost, the backpacking and mountaineering store then located at 112 W. Laurel St. (Coldstone Creamery’s current location). Nancy, also a CSU alumna, was a regular customer – so regular that Randy hired her to join him in the retail business.

The two said they enjoyed a friendship that seemingly passed them by at their high school in a suburb of Kansas City, Kan., and the beginning years of college, but it finally caught up to them at Outpost.

“I wouldn’t say it was love at first sight, I’d say it was more of a maturing of a relationship,” said Randy, 53. “(Our relationship) occurred very quickly, but we just found we had a lot of things in common and all the things we enjoyed in life were mutual.”

Their shared interests included similar views on the current environmental and political issues of the time, but above that, they both nurtured a love for the outdoors.

Randy was majoring in botany and plant pathology and Nancy in agronomy and range science. Randy’s 6-feet-6-inches led him to success on CSU’s track and field team as a scholarship high jumper, even landing him third in the conference one year. Nancy said she “didn’t do a lot through the school.”

But it wasn’t about what they were doing in school; it was their off-campus job that really mattered.

Outpost, which began in 1972, was started as a backpacking and mountaineering shop by a friend of Randy’s in downtown Fort Collins. Randy started working there in 1974, Nancy soon after, and the two haven’t left the business yet.

Since, the store and its owners have seen its share of change over time.

Randy and Nancy both graduated in 1976 and were married in 1977. Upon graduation, Randy became an Outpost business partner and they both made the decision to sidestep any career their degrees would have led them to.

Randy insists college was still a worthwhile experience despite straying from his chosen degree.

“Any college experience can prepare you for life as opposed to a career,” he said. “It is valuable time spent.”

The Morgans have worked as business partners for the past 30 years, seeing the retail shop through the opening of Sunsport, a sister summer store, in 1981; the mergence of the stores that created Outpost Sunsport in 1987; and the building of a new store on Harmony Road and closing of the College Avenue location.

Balancing work and life has held some difficulties for the Morgans, but they say they had few troubles finding an even ground.

“It can be challenging, but it’s actually worked out very well,” said Nancy, 51. “We have our own parts of the business to work with.”

The two remain in Fort Collins, which Randy said is a perfect town except for the lack of a ski area nearby, and recently expanded the business with a 600-foot addition. Both are still avid lovers of the outdoor lifestyle and say they spend much of their time at work.

They have two children, Allie, 19, and Tyler, 17.

After hitting their 30-year anniversary with the business and about to have their 30-year anniversary in marriage, the Morgans seem to embody the notion of two people destined to be together.

“I think it’s hard for a lot of couples (to live and work together),” Randy said. “But for us, working together drew us closer together because it enabled us to spend a lot of time together in the early years of our marriage.”

Features managing editor Amanda Schank can be reached at features@collegian.com.

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