(Above: Rachel and Michael Posthumus)
by Sarah Anderson | photography by Two Eagles Marcus
Michael and Rachel Posthumus figured out one thing very early in life — each other. Michael jokes that he asked Rachel to a dance in high school and was thrilled when she accepted. Fast forward to today, the two have been dancing through life together for 17 years and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.
The path to opening Switchback Gear Exchange was not always so clear for the two, but looking back seems inevitable. Michael and Rachel earned their bachelor’s degrees from Grand Valley State University. They were working in their respective fields in Jackson, Wyoming when they discovered shops that carried used outdoor gear. Craving more from their careers, the duo packed up their life out West and headed for Marquette, Michigan to pursue advanced degrees. Surrounded by the nature of northern Michigan, Michael and Rachel realized that this outdoorsy town was missing something major: A place to buy and sell used gear. Inspired, the couple opened up Switchback Gear Exchange while attending graduate school. The business existed for four more years in Marquette until the couple moved back to Grand Rapids. In May of 2015, Switchback Gear Exchange opened its doors in the Creston neighborhood. The business has expanded to include new and used outdoor gear, as well as a bike and repair shop.
For Rachel, the best part about working with her partner is having the deep trust in each other and the knowledge of how the other person functions. They both enjoy bringing their strengths to the table, although Michael insists Rachel provides 80 percent of those strengths. The couple has also greatly valued getting to know each other in a professional sense – something that some couples are never able to see.
“It gives me a much greater appreciation of Rachel’s skills and talents that I wouldn’t know otherwise,” Michael explained. “Plus, when she comes home and has had a bad day, I get it. It allows me to be a little more empathetic to what she needs and how I can take care of her.”
The couple likens the business venture to raising a family. They invest a lot of time and resources into it and are able to celebrate the successes together and share in the hard times.
“It’s really cool that we have grown it together,” Rachel reminisced. “It started from a three-day-a-week experiment while we were going to college to now being something that employs people and is a service to a community we care about.”