Mark’s Outdoors celebrates 40 years of sports and outdoors in Birmingham

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Mark's Outdoors
Mark Jr. is the third generation of Whitlocks to work at Mark’s Outdoors. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to visit a shop in Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show, Mark’s Outdoors is about as close as you can get. Since 1980, the family-owned Mark’s Outdoors has made regulars and new-comers alike feel welcome. Now, 40 years later, Mark’s is celebrating their history and looking forward to the next chapter in their story. See what makes them so special.

Humble Beginings

The Mark’s Outdoors family in 2001. Photo courtesy of Mark’s Outdoors

In 1980, Mark Whitlock Sr. and his father Mo opened a small bait-and-tackle shop in a strip mall on Highway 31. Compared to impersonal chain shops, the welcoming atmosphere of Mark’s Outdoors appealed to a large number of local sports enthusiasts.

When Mark’s Outdoors began to expand, Mark Sr. would simply buy the shop next-door and knock down the wall between them. Now, Mark’s occupies about three-fourths of the strip mall.

Three Generations of Whitlocks

Mark's Outdoors
Mark Whitlock Sr. and his son, Mark Whitlock, Jr. Photo courtesy of Mark Whitlock, Jr.

Mark Sr. passed away in 2012 after a two-year battle with cancer. For 32 years, Mark Sr. welcomed hundreds of regulars into the store he built up from the ground.

After his passing, Mark’s Outdoors moved into the hands of Mark Sr.’s wife, Dana and his son, Mark Jr. Today, Mark Jr. handles the day-to-day operation–meanwhile Dana and Mark Jr.’s wife, Lindsey, handle the financial side of the business.

The Shop Itself

Mark’s carries high-quality outdoor clothing brands, such as Filson. Photo via Nathan Watson for Bham Now

Although Mark’s originally started off with just fishing equipment, they have since expanded to fit their customer’s needs. In addition to a wide range of fish equipment, Mark’s sells high-quality outdoor clothing from brands like Filson, Kuhl, Aftco, Coosa Cotton, Under Armour and many more. Whether you’re preparing for a long hike or just looking for some stylish outdoor clothes, Mark’s has you covered.

You can check out some of the options at Mark’s Outdoors on their website.

Community Involvement

Mark's Outdoors
Mark Whitlock Sr. with a first-time fisher at the Lay Lake Fishing Tournament in 2011. Photo via Mark’s Outdoors on Facebook

As a locally-owned business, Mark’s is passionate about serving their community in more ways than one. One of those ways was the annual Lay Lake Fishing Tournament. Over 25 years ago, Mark Sr. started a free fishing tournament that encouraged parents to team up with their kids. The tournament originally started out with 50 participants–eventually, it outgrew Mark’s capacity and was capped at 500.

While Mark’s does not host the fishing tournament anymore; they still find ways to get parents involved with their kids and the outdoors. Each year, Mark’s gives away more than 150 fishing rods to kids for their annual Take a Kid Fishing Day. The only catch? The parents must take their kid fishing as soon as possible. Additionally, Mark’s partners up with Children’s Harbor and Magic City Moments each September for a Charity Clay Shoot.

Mark’s Outdoors

Birminghamians love a quality local business, and it’s clear that Mark’s Outdoors has been a Birmingham staple for the past forty years. We can’t wait to see what they have in store for the next forty.

What’s your favorite product at Mark’s Outdoors? Let us know by tagging @bhamnow on social media!

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  • Tennessee native who fell in love with Birmingham during college. Graduated from Birmingham-Southern College in 2019. Passionate about Birmingham and its continued growth.