Increased interest in outdoor recreation has created more business for local stores
DILLON — The outdoor industry is one of the few businesses that seems to be doing just as well as it has in previous summers, if not better, due to piqued interest in outdoor recreation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Local businesses report that gear is flying off the shelves and that both locals and tourists alike are eager to get outside as many other forms of summer entertainment — events, concerts or indoor exercise — are limited.
Lucy Hedrick, co-owner of Wilderness Sports, said that the store is definitely busier than it was last summer, and that the season has been longer as bike season started in early May with the warm spring.
As a bike-focused shop in the summer, Hedrick pointed out that there is currently a nationwide bicycle shortage, which has made keeping inventory difficult and the store unable to offer summer rentals. The store has been slammed with people wanting to get their bikes tuned up as well, Hedrick said, and the store is currently turning bikes around in about a week to a week and a half. Hedrick said new bikes are hard to come by right now.
Hedrick said people have come into the store looking for all kinds of gear. They sold out of their small selection of paddleboards and other water sports items within the first few weeks of May.
“We definitely have customers all day every day coming in looking for all sorts of sports-related, outdoor-related things,” Hedrick said.
Wilderness Sports has seen more beginners than usual, Hedrick said, with entry-level bikes being the first to go. Hedrick attributed the newfound interests to people having more time on their hands and potentially extra money from stimulus checks. The store has been working more with clients to educate new bikers about what tools they need and on beginner trails in the area.
“The industry as a whole is way up from last summer. Foot traffic-wise, sales-wise, it just all really took off,” Hedrick said. “When COVID started we were worried about what that was going to look like for retail. Thankfully in Colorado, bike shops are considered essential so we actually were only closed for one day and then we were able to open back up, so we’ve been pretty much slammed this whole season.”
Breckenridge Outfitters, a fly shop and fishing guide service, is seeing an increase in product sales, license sales and interest in guided excursions, according to owner Tim West. West said the guides are seeing a lot of families coming out on excursions and the store is selling out of gear and having a hard time getting the supplies back in.
“A lot of these people are just wanting to be outside, which is great,” West said. “What a good recreation renaissance to be happening. People are getting outside and getting off their tablets and phones and disconnecting a little bit so it’s kind of a blessing in disguise in that way.”
West said that at the beginning of the quarantine there was a big uptick in fishing interest among locals, particularly in households where beginners wanted to try something new as the resorts closed and had an experienced spouse or roommate who could help. Now, West said this interest has steamrolled and people are “hooked.”
At Breckenridge Outfitters, West said the store could definitely use a few more staff members this summer and that new guides have been hired. As of Wednesday, July 29, tours were booked out into the second week of August. West said the store is about as busy as previous summers, which was not at all expected.
Recycle Sports reopened in early June. According to manager Brad Harding, business has felt condensed as the store was closed for months and is now bustling while understaffed. Harding said it’s been difficult to keep bicycles or anything paddle-related in stock. While biking and water sports gear are the most sought after in Recycle Sports, people are also buying golf clubs, tennis rackets and other types of items.
As for biking, Harding said staff has worked to help people determine which bike is suited for the type of activity they’re looking for, with the most popular being a hybrid bicycle that is good for mountain or road biking. Harding said the store was lucky enough to fulfill their bike order in February despite the shortage. Yet there has been a shortage of bike parts such as tires. He said there has been a frequent exchange of used bikes as well.
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