When Steve and Kathy Scott, owners of Gorilla Country, moved to Pittsburg from Southern Illinois in 2000, it was to be just another stop in a string of places they’d lived as part of Steve’s job with J.C. Penney.
“They told me it was a great community, a great store, that I’d be here a few years, and then I’d transfer out,” Steve said. “Turns out Pittsburg was such a wonderful place, we didn’t ever want to leave.”
It was surprising, he admits, because they previously had lived in large cities with plenty of amenities — from St. Louis, Missouri, to Carbondale, Illinois.
“We saw how special it was, though, and we decided to stay,” he said.
In 2013, he retired from J.C. Penney so that they could open their small business on Broadway — not far from Pittsburg State University to the south and the heart of downtown Pittsburg to the north — so that they could stay.
Now a sea of red and gold, the store is filled with Gorilla-themed apparel, accessories, home and office decor, and gifts.
As an unofficial ambassador for Pittsburg State, Scott often serves customers who are in town for the first time specifically because of the university.
“They’re in the store when they come to town for campus tours, and then back when they drop their kids off in August to attend classes — a little bit of nerves — and speaking from my own experience, I tell them I can honestly say it’s a good place, with good people in it, and everything will work out well,” he said. “I believe in sharing our experience.”
The Scotts felt so strongly about their experience, in fact, that this year they decided to give back by designing and selling a t-shirt to raise money for the Gorilla Food Pantry — an effort that raised $2,000. They plan to sell a new shirt for the cause next semester.
“Pittsburg is a great community, and the university helps make it so,” Steve said. “Pitt State people, whether they be students, fans, employees, or alumni, are all a great group of people, and we just love doing what we do.”