Scott Crook, Pack Rat Outdoor Center co-founder and owner, has died

by Paul Gatling ( 1,612 views 

Scott Crook, inset, started Fayetteville outdoor outfitter Pack Rat Outdoor Center in 1973 with his wife Carolyn. (Photo illustration by Chloe Ford)

Fayetteville retailer Scott Crook, the co-founder and owner of longtime outdoor outfitter Pack Rat Outdoor Center, died Monday (June 10) at Willard Walker Hospice Home in Fayetteville. He was 72.

Crook earned a chemistry degree from Centenary College in Louisiana, then moved to Fayetteville to pursue a post-graduate degree in organic chemistry at the University of Arkansas.

He met his wife Carolyn in Fayetteville and they married in 1971, according to his obituary.  The couple started Pack Rat in 1973 from their garage, selling Old Town canoes to earn extra money.

“I just had a few hundred dollars in that first shipment of [six] boats I got,” Crook told the Northwest Arkansas Business Journal in 2004.

The Crooks started the business as the result of a backpacking trip with some friends to Wyoming. Upon their return to Northwest Arkansas, according to the obituary, they lamented the fact that the nearest outdoor outfitting store was over two hours away in Tulsa.

The business did so well that in 1975 Crook relocated Pack Rat to an 800-square-foot space at Fayetteville’s Evelyn Hills Shopping Center. There, he sold camping and hiking equipment in addition to canoes and kayaks.

The Pack Rat outgrew four different buildings through the years until finally, in 2001, Crook built a new 15,000, square-foot, $1.8 million building at the corner of Gregg Avenue and Sunbridge Drive in Fayetteville.

Crook was an original member of the nonprofit Ozark Highlands Trail Association. He also had a long association with the Southern Utah Wilderness Association, the Nature Conservancy of Arkansas, National Audubon Society, Trout Unlimited, the Sierra Club and he was a life-long member of the Ozark Society.

A visitation is scheduled Thursday (June 13) from 4-7 p.m. at Nelson-Berna Funeral Home in Fayetteville.