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New Owners Assume the Helm at West Virginia’s Iconic Water Stone Outdoors


March, 2022
Fayetteville, West Virginia
Holly Fussell, and her former Navy SEAL husband, Chris Fussell have recently purchased Water Stone Outdoors, an outdoor retail shop that has served as an anchor in the New River Gorge climbing and outdoor community since its founding in 1994. Co-Founders Gene and Maura Kistler, and Kenny Parker, all three legends of the Appalachian rock climbing community, will continue to
play important roles in the business. Gene and Maura will serve as advisors throughout the transition, and Kenny will remain full-time as senior manager of the shop.

“This shop and town are our lifeblood,” says founder 
Maura Kistler, “and we’re beyond thrilled to pass the torch to friends who understand this community, and
have a deep love of the outdoors.” Parker, too, is looking forward to what’s to come. “We wouldn’t have done this with just anyone. Holly and Chris know us, know this community, and are bringing fresh ideas and energy to the business. I’m excited to see where we can take it for the next generation.” After many years of military service, Holly and Chris resettled in Washington, DC, in 2012 where they dedicated their efforts to the creation of a management consulting firm, McChrystal Group, where Chris now serves as president. In 2020, the couple, with their two children, made the unique decision to move from Capitol Hill to Fayetteville, West Virginia, where they’ve owned a home since the early 2000’s. They’ve spent the past two years looking for ways to invest their time and energy into the community they love, and buying Water Stone emerged after a series of conversations with the owners.

“Chris and I have had a life full of amazing experiences and challenges,” said Holly about the recent move and acquisition. “Our friends in Fayetteville have always served as a foundation in our ability to manage the stress of countless deployments, life in a busy city, and everything else life throws at all of us
these days. Maura, Gene, and Kenny and have been great friends and role models for many years, and we’re truly honored that they would consider us the right team to inherit what they’ve built.”

Holly will run the day-to-day of Water Stone with Parker, while Chris remains heavily involved in his consulting work. Chris and Holly’s children, 13 and 11, attend school in Fayetteville when they’re not climbing, mountain biking, skiing, or
running the river with friends. “I’m so excited that we’ve found a way to invest in a place we love, alongside friends who have dedicated their life’s energy to creating such an fantastic shop and community,” said Chris, “and I couldn’t be more proud of Holly, an amazing spouse and mother, who is willing to step into the outdoor industry – an arena that has so much to gain from the leadership and energy of women who understand the challenges of raising a family in today’s world. We’ve always valued what access to the outdoors can do for a family, and Holly has been our anchor on that front. I know she’ll find ways to expand that message through Water Stone.” In the near term, Holly intends to deepen her understanding of the business alongside Kenny, and continue to expand her family’s ties to the community. The couple’s longer-term vision focuses on creating growth in the region through Appalachia’s fast-evolving outdoor economy.

About: Water Stone Outdoors (​) is located in Fayetteville, West Virginia. It sells outdoor apparel ranging from clothing to hardware, and specializes in rock climbing gear and personal equipment. It is minutes away from the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, many miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, and of course, thousands of
single-pitch climbs – many of which were established by the shop’s founders.

Contact:; 757.256.8828​