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Elmo Studds to become new rock climbing gym

Circuit Bouldering Gym plans to open third location in Tigard


Elmo Studd's Building Supplies closed its doors in 2011, but the empty lumber yard will soon become home to the city's first rock climbing gym.Changes are on the horizon for the long dormant Elmo Studd’s Building Supplies site on Southwest Durham Road.

The lumber yard and handyman supply shop, located at 16255 S.W. Upper Boones Ferry Road, in Tigard, opened its doors 30 years ago, but has sat empty since 2011.

Now construction crews are hard at work to transform the site into a bouldering gym, which plans to open this summer.

Circuit Bouldering Gym operates two locations in Portland, and owner Andy Coleman plans to open the company's first suburban gym in June.

“It’s pretty exciting,” Coleman said.

Bouldering is a type of rock climbing that doesn’t use ropes or harnesses.

by: JAIME VALDEZ - Andy Coleman, owner of Circuit Bouldering Gym watches construction occur to his new location in Tigard at the former Elmo Studd's Building Supplies.Walls are generally shorter than traditional rock climbing walls, Coleman said, and climbers rely on thick padding on the floor to help break their fall.

“It’s popular because you don’t need to own gear or go in with someone who knows how to climb,” said Coleman, who has worked in the industry for 20 years. “You can just walk in and get a workout whenever you want.”

With more than 19,000 square feet, there’s plenty of room to spread out. Coleman plans to include yoga rooms, a fitness area and a kids play area.

And he has visions for the rest of the lumber yard grounds as well, he said.

“Eventually, I’d like to develop it and hope to find some cool companies to blend in with us,” he said. “My dream would be to land a brew pub over there. Wouldn’t that be sick?”

When Circuit opens this summer, it will have competition from a few well-known rock climbing establishments on the west side.

ClubSport operates a rock climbing wall at its location less than a mile away, and Stoneworks Climbing Gym has been in business near Southwest Denney Road in Beaverton for more than two decades.

Coleman said the company searched for the better part of two years before discovering the Tigard location.

“Suitable building sites for rock climbing gyms are really hard to come by,” he said. “I remember driving around Tigard five years ago and seeing Elmo Studd’s and thinking that it would make an awesome climbing gym, but it wasn’t for sale.”

The Tigard gym will be bigger than the company’s two other locations.

On Circuit Bouldering Gym's website, the company talks about its Westside expansion. "We will build it ourselves. We will do it with heart. We have listened and learned a lot throughout the years; expect our best work. We are very excited to share it with you this summer.”

Bill and Diane Fagan opened Elmo Studd’s Building Supplies in 1984.

Over the years the company’s most popular feature — its reader board — espoused words of wisdom to passersby and became well known to drivers for its humorous sayings.

The sign was a local landmark, and in 2008 landed on the front page of The New York Times with its message: “Blow your fed stimulus check here.”

In 2010, the couple sold the business to Rebel Country Lumber, based in Beaverton. The business closed the following summer.

Since buying the property, Coleman said he has heard a lot about the location’s history and its famous reader board.

“Everybody seems to know where Elmo Studd’s is,” he said.

Coleman has even started updating the reader board with a new message, the first it has seen in several months.

“The secret of getting ahead is getting started,” the sign reads.

Coleman said he plans for the sign’s legacy to continue.

“We’re going to start putting up quotes and stuff,” he said. “It’s just fun.”

Coleman moved to San Clemente, Calif., a year ago to expand the business.

“The only problem I have with this gym is that I won’t be around to climb it very often,” he said.