Serendipity

Northland's Chance Encounter With The Heber Valley

There is something magical about the Heber Valley. It draws people. Visitors, unintentionally searching, find their way here and stay. They become a part of what makes this community so distinctive.

Angelo Querciali and Carolina De Martino, owners of the Northland store on heber city’s Main Street, were settled in Patagonia, Argentina, a region at the southernmost tip of South America. Now, through their own amazing and unique path, they also have become part of the story of Heber Valley.

Retail and Relationship Beginnings

Growing up in Carolina’s family, outdoor retail was life. Carolina’s mother owned an outdoor retail store, and her father had his own brand. Her mother suggested a good friend and client who lived in Tierra de Fuego to help grow the brand. Carolina tried to make an appointment with the business owner. When she finally arranged the appointment, Angelo didn’t even show up! Instead, he sent his brother. Carolina was frustrated and called Angelo again to arrange a meeting. He didn’t want to meet, and she recalled telling him, “Tell me when, because I have the ticket in my hand.” Finally, they met and then started dating soon after. Just six months into their relationship, Carolina got a job in Angelo’s factory and moved to his city. After a year, they were married.

They had a nice life in Argentina. “We had a lot of things we don’t have here — like our farm. Every weekend we went to the farm. We have a house there, horses, ATV’s, everything to play around with,” said Angelo. The couple was growing a very successful business together, with 15 locations in Argentina, another in Chile, and several franchises.

Wandering Home

“Because we had the business, we started coming for the outdoor retail show that used to be in Salt Lake City for the last 12 years. And every time we came up here for work, we took a few weeks to drive all over the Northwest.”

“We flew to Seattle,” said Angelo, “and then we drove down here, and, honestly, we stopped in Park City by accident for lunch. We started walking . . . and I was telling my wife, ‘This looks like the land where I lived when I was a kid’ . . . We felt so comfortable.”

They were a day ahead of schedule, so they spent the night in Park City. The next night, they had a hotel reservation in Salt Lake. But they didn’t want to leave. So, they called the Salt Lake hotel, canceled the reservation, and then drove to the convention from Park City each day.

The couple began traveling to Utah every summer and winter for different retailer shows. “We loved Park City,” said Angelo, “so we started staying there for months every time we came. One day, we came [to Wasatch County] through the mountains and ended up in Midway.”

While driving around Midway, they came across an open house. “We stopped to look at the house, you know, we were just curious,” said Angelo, “and then we just started looking for houses. In two weeks, we bought the one across the street!”

“We fell in love with Midway. We bought the house seven years ago,” Carolina added.

The Midway house served as their vacation home. But each time they came back, their children would beg them to extend the trip. Angelo was regularly rescheduling the airplane tickets to allow for more time here. “We tried to go home [to Argentina] but would end up extending the tickets,” explained Angelo. “Every time we changed the tickets, it was harder to go back. Nobody wanted to go back.” The family decided to move to their Midway vacation home, so they put their papers into the Embassy.

Expanding the Operations

While they were waiting, they participated in a show with Northland, which was their leading brand. They mentioned their upcoming move to the owner, and he was excited to have them represent the brand in the U.S. The Northland store in Heber City is now the only location for Northland products in the United States.

Carolina and Angelo have known the family behind the Northland brand for a long time. “They are owned by a father, son, and daughter,” said Angelo. “They play around in the Alps in Austria all the time . . . It’s a unique brand, very European, with extremely good prices and quality. The prices are really affordable.”

“Northland is a super complete brand because, on the one hand, they offer very technical apparel for high-performance mountaineering [and other sports]. They also have fashion outdoor apparel for every day,” Carolina explained. “Northland has all these beautiful things that transition super well.”

They planned to open a small showroom in Midway to start a national distribution for Northland. But then they began considering opening a retail shop. They looked in Heber, but they couldn’t find a store they liked. They eventually found a location in Park City at Redstone. “We had all the papers ready,” recalled Angelo. “Our architect had already done all the plans for the store.”

Persistent Providence

A year before, Carolina had found a house on Heber City’s Main Street that she wanted to rent. But it wasn’t available. “It might happen,” she’d said hopefully. Right before signing the Redstone contract, Angelo was driving down Heber’s Main Street and noticed a man putting a sign on the house to announce its availability. Angelo chased the man as he drove off. When he caught up to him, he told him to take the sign off because they wanted the house. “The next day, I called the [Park City] guy and said, ‘You know what? Let’s cancel.”

Angelo explained the decision. “This is the place we like. This is the kind of life we wanted when we moved here. I think we’re a very lucky couple because sometimes you move because you have to leave your country or because you need to move for a job. You cannot really pick the place. I think we’re very lucky we have the chance to really pick out the place we want to be, and not because we have to.”

Angelo, Carolina, and their kids are enjoying their new life in the Heber Valley. “We feel super comfortable,” said Carolina. “We love the people, and they are super nice. There are also a lot of options in this valley to have fun, like mountains, lakes . . . we really love it.”

“We’ve been here for a year already, and we have friends and people that have always helped us from day one,” said Angelo.

Growing the Community

Being a part of the community is important to them. One of their main goals is to help develop Main Street in Heber. “I think our main challenge is to try to change the minds of the people to know that they can shop local now. They are not used to it,” said Carolina. “In the next month, I know more stores are coming, and we all have to see what we can do to remind the people [to shop local]. Of course, you can always buy Amazon, but at least give us a chance first.”

They are excited about the direction Main Street is taking. “If everyone contributes to that goal that the Mayor and the people in the city government are working towards, it will be great. It’s going to be an amazing Main Street,” said Angelo. “I think they have a great plan, and we want to be a part of it.” Carolina agreed. “We really feel part of the community. We are very into taking care of the valley.”

Although the Heber Northland store is up and running, the couple’s 15 stores in Argentina, and additional stores in Chile are still open. They have 120 employees there, and over 50% have been with the company for at least 20 years. “We are a family business,” said Angelo. “We take care of our employees and our customers very well.” Angelo spends 7-12 hours a day keeping everything running smoothly in Argentina, while Carolina runs the store here. Although he used to alternate spending two weeks here and two weeks there, COVID required that he learn to run the business remotely, for which he is thankful. He enjoys spending much more time now with his wife and children. His future plan is to visit only four times a year and keep the house in Argentina for holidays.

Quality Offerings

Whether here or in South America, Angelo and Carolina want their business to be about quality. “It’s going to be quality, and it’s going to be affordable for the quality,” explained Angelo. “We try to give the best price we can.” And after 35 years in the outdoor industry, they know what they are talking about.

“One difference between other companies and us is that we spend our lives at the stores. We’re proud of what we do. We’re very picky, and we have good, close relationships with the brands. Everything we get, we buy it ourselves,” said Angelo.

Some of the other brands sold at the Northland store include Birkenstock, Roxy, Quiksilver, 686, and Dare2B Skiwear. They also offer smaller, unique brands, such as Dakota Grizzly, Vela, and Sherpani. Overall, the store mostly sells outdoor apparel, with lots of casual fashion. They like products that can be worn in multiple environments. “This valley is very open to that. You can go to a super high-end restaurant, and you’re still a little outdoorsy,” said Carolina.

Store manager Thom Chamberlain, who decided to sell his house and move to the valley after a 3-day vacation here, explained that the Heber store focuses on an “active outdoor lifestyle — not only just full activity — but also après fashion. So, after you get done with hiking, skiing, biking, you can still wear our clothing for the bar or club or whatever.”

Angelo and Carolina are pleased with their brands and their store. They are excited to bring these products to the people in Utah and, eventually, distribute them all across the U.S. But they plan to stay here. Even with all their worldwide travels, they feel very thankful to be here in the Heber Valley. As Angelo put it, “It’s an amazing place to live. There are not too many places like this in the world. Believe me. We’ve been everywhere.”