While attending school at Belhaven University, McCain also played on the school’s basketball team. He started Buffalo Peak at 28 years old. An avid traveler, he has made 12 trips to Alaska. He grew up on a farm, and his family grew cotton and had dairy cows. His two sons, Travis and Cody, have joined him in working at Buffalo Peak.
Bobby McCain’s store, Buffalo Peak, has provided gear for adventurous souls looking to get off the beaten path for nearly 33 years.
The store symbolizes something similar for McCain, as he had a different path mapped out for his career before venturing out into the business world.
The Alva native moved to Jackson to attend Belhaven University in ’76, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“I thought I wanted to go into banking, and I thought I wanted to get an MBA,” McCain said. “Then I started working in retail my senior year at Belhaven.”
He decided to work a while before going to graduate school and started work at Athlete’s Foot. Later, he became the store manager and worked there for six years from 1980 to 1985.
“Once I got into that and realized I liked it, that’s when I realized I wanted to open my own shop,” he said. “Once I got a taste of retail, I decided I wanted to create something of my own.”
On a trip to Highlands, North Carolina, he ventured into a store called the Happy Hiker.
“I fell in love with that little shop,” he said. “They had outdoor gear, and I thought that was really cool. I came back here from that trip and took a look around.”
There weren’t many outdoor stores in the Jackson metro at that time. He went back to Highlands and met with the owners of the Happy Hiker to pick their brains about the business.
At age 28, he opened Buffalo Peak in Highland Village in Jackson. In the beginning the store was 1,500 square feet.
“We’ve expanded four or five times since then,” he said.
The store is now approximately 9,100 square feet.
“We have been very fortunate to be able to grow,” he said.
Stepping into the shop, patrons are immediately greeted by members of the sales staff who are knowledgeable about the outdoor products they carry.
“Outdoor can mean a lot of different things,” he said. “We tend to cater more to people who are traveling, whether that is camping or hiking or backpacking. We have a large travel business. People in this area travel literally all over the world. It has been amazing seeing where all people go.”
Buffalo Peak outfits people for trips all over the world. McCain said he and the other staff are able to use their experience and knowledge from their own adventures and product use to help customers find the best fit for them, from clothing to gear.
“While we carry a lot of sportswear and casual footwear, we can also still outfit someone for a hike on the Appalachian Trail or something technical like that,” he said. “We are fortunate to have the experience and expertise to help both types of customer.”
McCain said his outdoors experience began as a young child growing up on a farm, but he grew from playing outside and fishing to hiking and backpacking.
“I’ve traveled all over the western United States and done all kinds of hiking,” he said.
He has also taken 12 trips to Alaska and now coordinates trips for Northsiders.
“Our ultimate goal is to make sure they leave with the right product to better enjoy their trips,” McCain said.
Approximately 12 employees are on staff at Buffalo Peak, including Dave Edmonson, who has worked there for 25 years; Bobby Adams, who has worked there for 23 years; and McCain’s sons Cody, who handles the store’s marketing and social media, and Travis, who serves as the store manager.