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VIProfile: Lisa Martens

Story by Emily Robertson

For Lisa Martens, Nat’s Outdoors Sports has been a way of life for her and her family for the last 50 years. Now, as the local retailer celebrates a half century in the community, Lisa is grateful to be able to see the growth that Nat’s has had, while being excited for what the future holds for both the business and her family.

Growing up in Bowling Green, Lisa graduated from Warren Central High School. Her father, Nat Love, established Nat’s Outdoor Sports in 1973, and she always remembers being in the outdoors, doing all kinds of activities outside like hiking, biking, snow skiing and water sports. Lisa grew up in the family business, but officially started working at Nat’s when she began college at Western Kentucky University.

“I started helping my Dad with bookkeeping while I was in college earning my accounting degree,” Lisa says. “Upon graduating from WKU in 1989, I started working full time at the location behind Rafferty’s on Scottsville Road.”

Around that time, Nat’s started expanding their product lines to include more lifestyle brands and Lisa was involved in the expansion and move to their current location on Wilkinson Trace. Lisa became a partner of the retailer in 2004 and the owner in 2011. Nat’s celebrated their 50th anniversary on November 15, 2023, with a ribbon cutting with the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce and a proclamation of November 15th as Nat’s Outdoor Sports Day.

“I am proud that we have continued to change and grow as a business and be successful after 50 years,” Lisa says. “There have been many significant challenges and changes in retail over the last 50 years that we have overcome and adapted to. It is very humbling to see Nat’s tees and stickers when traveling in other states. We are honored to have consistently been voted the ‘Best Outdoor Store’ by The Daily News and WKU’s Best of the Hill.”

Outside of her work with Nat’s, Lisa has been married for 30 years to her husband, Doug Martens. Along with Nat’s, the couple owns Doug Martens Construction and have two grown children: their son, Kyle Martens, works as an engineer at the Bowling Green Assembly Corvette plant and their daughter, Leah Martens Willey, works as a financial planner in Savannah, Georgia. She credits her children as being her greatest accomplishment, and the Martens are extremely proud of the adults they have become.

“Our family loves being at the lake with family and friends,” Lisa says. “We also love to travel when the opportunity arises. I also enjoy working out and challenging myself, as well as reading in my downtime.” The Martens are also very involved in giving back to the community. Lisa was nominated for the local Athena Award in 2023 and both Lisa and Doug were awarded the WKU 2018 Summit Award for Volunteer of the Year.

As a lifelong resident of Bowling Green, Lisa loves her hometown. She is proud of all that the area has to offer and she is thankful that the community rallies around local businesses. “The Bowling Green community has always been a great supporter of local business,” Lisa says. “We consider our customers family and we love when they share their adventures with us. The holidays at Nat’s are often a reunion as we see old friends come back to visit. I love that we live in a community that supports one another, and that we are able to give back to our community through fundraisers and events.”

Lisa is quick to credit her parents as being the biggest influence in her life, both personally and professionally, and she knows that with the guidance and support she has around her, she is focused on even greater success for Nat’s in the future. “Both of my parents have been a big influence in my life,” Lisa says. “I have been very fortunate to have their support through the many stages of my life. Of course, my dad was a huge influence as he was my mentor for many years in the business.

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