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Retail Reflection: The Summer of 2020

This is the second in a series of blogs reflecting on the summer of 2020.

At Angler’s Covey, we have never seen anything like the summer of 2020. As the state and federal governments worked out plans and strategies to open up the economy, the retail staff at Angler’s Covey worked hard to serve the customers looking to get outside. As Rachel Leinweber, General Manager, says, “This is what people picked when they had down time. They chose fly fishing this summer.” This upswing in people pursuing fly fishing was definitely felt in the shop.

“The biggest surprise for me was the onslaught of people. In May, the season was so unpredictable.” David Leinweber, co-owner, says that “Whether it was family reunions, birthday parties, intramurals, group activities – those things weren’t happening. And it took awhile to understand that the sports that encouraged social distancing — such as fly fishing — got a substantial boom.”

In April, the Shop boosted its online retail and curbside services. Because the staff was completely laid off, Rachel Leinweber handled all of the retail side of the business. As the shop reopened in mid-May and into June, with full safety precautions in place to protect the health of staff and customers, Jared Sanders and Angel Cruz returned to the floor and the sales staff was built back up throughout the summer.

Rachel, left, and Angel safely distanced as they reflected on the summer.

Jared says at first he was surprised at “The heavy influx of people choosing [fly fishing] over the other things they could do. When we did open up, the rush kept going on and on.”

“It was busier than I thought it would be,” Angel adds. “A lot of newer customers. And that’s fun to see — more people with a fly rod in their hands.”

But the pandemic had its down side, too. Rachel notes that the shop “had a challenge making sure that we had products accessible and available. People were very understanding when we were out of certain products because of the strain the COVID put on the supply chain.”

“Yeah, there were things out of our control in getting products,” Jared adds. “We knew it was frustrating for a lot of customers, but for the most part, everybody understood what was going on.”

“We had a lot of adapting going on,” Jared laughs. “We had no idea what it was going to look like.”

Angel totally agrees with the adapting. “Every day was something new. We thought it would slow down and then it got busy again. We had to take it a step at a time.”

It was this ability to adapt and be flexible – two qualities that anglers have to possess, right? — that stands out in Rachel’s mind.

“We have the most amazing staff. We are so focused on customer service and super open to beginners. Fly fishing has its own lingo and a language that we tend to speak without even knowing it. It can be super intimidating.”

David Leinweber recognizes how the summer of 2020 could be foreshadowing of what the future may hold along the Rampart and Front Ranges.

“The tidal wave was kind of nice on the retail side, but in terms of our resources, that had a tremendous impact. And it really demonstrated how under managed and under developed our resources are. It showed how our community and region needs to figure out how we manage recreation. Because the region got waylaid.”

“The big takeaway is that we got an early glimpse of what outdoor rec is going to look like 5 or 10 years from now. And it looks different. We’ve identified how important [the outdoors] is to mind, body, and spirit, right? Having that quiet time in the forest, or that walk in the park, or whatever it might be, is important. And we as a community are going to need to figure out how to create more opportunities in terms of outdoor rec, in general, and fly fishing.”

Rachel couldn’t mask the pride she feels in her sales staff

and the work they did this summer.

Looking forward, Rachel is positive about serving the fly fishing needs of both regular customers – “they were so supportive! In April, they even brought me milk shakes” — and newcomers to the sport. “We want to make sure that we have easy entry into the sport. I’m super proud of our staff. They’re so approachable. That attitude will continue next year.”

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