One year ago, in April of 2020, almost everyone at Angler’s Covey had been laid off. For a few weeks, the shop operated solely with a curb-side service. Rachel Leinweber, General Manager, took orders over the phone and then filled brown paper bags with flies, line, reels, tippet, leader … On May 1, 2020, Angler’s Covey re-opened its doors after almost a full month of pandemic shut down to enter Stage 1 of the Rebound.
“It was sort of cross your fingers and hope people would come. We didn’t even know if we would have a business. So there was a lot of fear that we would lose our livelihood. Well, on May 1, the line stretched from the door to the parking lot. That only happens on big sale events,” Rachel says. “We went from ‘will we have a business’ to, ‘oh my gosh, we need to hire people.’”
In terms of Services, Jon Easdon expressed the same attitude of being “cautiously optimistic” when May arrived. “I wasn’t sure what would happen with guide trips and travel restriction. We had tons of fears and uncertainty.”
As we moved into the summer, it became clear that being outdoors was safer and healthier. “One of the bright spots was that the outdoors remained the same. It’s a place of solace for me. And all of a sudden, the phones were ringing and people wanted to get out. We had a small crew but a record number of trips. People had the same experience that I had: the outdoors are normal, they’re safe, and that’s a place where I can be.”
One Year Later
… in Retail
The supply chain is impacting how we get products in a timely manner. It’s difficult for manufacturers to get parts from country to country. Then, when products are on ships and barges, the U.S. has been prioritizing essential supplies. Outdoor gear is not essential (definitely an arguable point!).
For the shop, this blockage in the pipeline makes it harder to get products in. “Our brands are honoring our orders, but once the product gets in and gets sold, we’re not sure when we will be able to get a product back in. We’re ordering heavy because of that,” Rachel says.
We have a lot of products in the pipeline and companies are delivering orders and partial orders. It’s a little unpredictable right now. If you have your eyes on a pair of waders, it might not be good to wait because we aren’t quite sure when the next shipment will arrive.
… in Services
“I think the popularity is just going to keep growing,” Jon says.
“One of the things the pandemic did was shake people to the core and maybe realize what truly is important. Getting outdoors is a little more safe to do as compared to international travel or even domestic travel. The simplicity and purity of the outdoors really appeals. I think that is going to keep going.”
And following up on our Earth Day theme from last week, both Jon and Rachel observed the impact that increased number of people are having on the fisheries. Jon added, “We didn’t expect the overuse in the outdoors and that’s been a big surprise. So what also may continue is that heavy traffic. And what is on my mind is how to be easier on the resource. So we need to continue to spread he education message, especially around the Leave No Trace principles.”
Protocols in the Shop
Rachel says that, “Customers are more accepting of masks and mandates and what we have to continue to operate as a business. The customers have been wonderful. Really understanding.” She adds that it’s “almost normal to be wearing a mask than not.”
“We’re hoping that some of the mandates and restrictions go away. The store policy now is that we are not limiting the number of people in the store. We’re very lucky because our store is so big and people can spread out. As employees we are still cleaning everything, sanitizing everything. We have chip readers, and contactless payment, so we don’t need to sanitize pens anymore. Employees are still wearing masks to keep each other safe and our customers safe. When we hear from the governor or from the county that things change, we will respond appropriately.”
Jon and Rachel agree that “We want to keep people fishing. We want to keep being alongside them in their journey that they may have started in 2020.”