Spike in demand has led to lack of available supply
By Sierra McGivney
Gear sales have been at a record high this past year in the Adirondacks. From bikes to snowshoes to paddle sports, outdoor recreation products have been in high demand, and there’s no sign of sales slowing during the winter months. Unfortunately, that has led to a shortage in availability, hurting store owners’ ability to resupply.
Here’s a look at what’s been selling big and what’s booming this winter:
Fat tire bikes
John Dimon, the owner of Human Power Planet Earth, an outdoors shop in Saranac Lake, says he has seen an overall increase in sales in all outdoor sports but especially bicycles. Bikes have been flying off the shelves since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, that has led to a shortage in availability, hurting Dimon’s ability to resupply.
“Our sales were slightly down because we literally couldn’t get new bicycles to sell probably since April,” said Dimon.
The shop finally got one shipment of fat-tire bikes (which can be used in some winter conditions) in October that Dimon ordered in May. They sold out of the fat bikes almost immediately. Only two or three remain and Dimon predicts that those won’t be around for long.
In addition to the fat bikes, Nordic Skates, and kick sleds have been popular winter items. They are running into the same problem keeping up with demand. Dimon ordered skates and sleds in late summer and just received them about a week ago. Most of them presold. Only a couple sleds and skates remain in the shop.
“We might just be repairing bikes and getting them ready for that first sunny day in May,” said Dimon.
Find out how Human Power Planet Earth
is making the most of the pandemic
From kayaks to snowshoes
Mountainman Outdoor Supply Co. has seen a similar boom in business, from hiking and camping to skiing and water sports.
“People have rediscovered nature; they’ve discovered it for the first time,” said John Nemjo, the owner of Mountainman, which has locations in Old Forge and Saratoga Springs.
In the summer, Mountainman couldn’t get kayaks in fast enough. They would get 100 kayaks delivered on Friday and by Sunday they would be sold out. Nemjo saw a halt in gear and clothing because of unprecedented demand and work forces shutting down because of COVID-19.
Mountainman is still facing the same supply problems. They were so busy selling gear in the summer they didn’t stop to think that this boom would continue into the winter.
Nemjo thought they would be resupplied by now but their major snowshoe supplier is short on materials. Now, they are looking into other potential sources for gear. Although this year has presented challenges for Nemjo, he feels fortunate to be in the outdoor gear business because they had something people needed.
Backcountry ski packages
At High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid, workers have been seeing an increasing number of people getting involved in outdoor recreation.
“People have saved money from not traveling or going on vacation and are definitely spending it locally,” said Brian Delaney, the owner of High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid.
People are buying user-friendly backcountry ski models in anticipation of ski resorts closing. These setups can go on cross-country ski trails in the mountains as well as regular backcountry ski trails. High Peaks Cyclery took in an unusually large inventory of skis this year so they still have a lot to sell.
“Now we’re in the heart of the ski season and people’s kind of quippy quote is ‘I need my COVID ski setup,’” said sales manager Matt Goldberg.
Goldberg says they are already ordering gear for the summer and spring months. For him it’s like playing fortune teller to see how much equipment will sell in the upcoming months.
The shop’s guide service has been just as busy. In the summer they offer mountain biking and rock climbing. In the winter they offer all-inclusive sledding trips for families, guided ice climbs and guided ski tours. Guides have been taking people out five days out of every week for months with no lull.
“It makes the business aspect of it very full circle, because they’re buying from the shop,” said Goldberg, “They’re using our guide services, and then they’re taking all of that into the mountains, enjoying it, and then coming back and either buying more and telling friends so we get more service.”
Developing lifelong users
Charlie Wise, the owner of the Mountaineer in Keene Valley, believes that they won’t see explosive demands for certain products this coming summer because the demand was already satisfied. But he does hope these new habits will stick.
“I do think that there have been some users that have been exposed to some of these activities that will become lifelong outdoor recreationalists and their families,” he said.