Ski Hut Sees Increase in Outdoor Equipment

Due to COVID-19 and the nicer weather, many outdoor stores like Ski Hut are struggling to keep up with the high demand of outdoor gear.

DULUTH, Minn. – As the short Duluth summer approaches, people are getting outside in any way they can.

“We’ve got a great outdoor scene, there’s so many trails and forests and lakes and rivers and streams to go explore,” Ski Hut manager Dave Neustel said.

“There’s a lot of cabin fever. Now that we have warmer conditions and we’re loosening the reigns a little bit, people are really, really itching to get outside and play,” Ski Hut sales/marketing associate Bobbie Larson said.

But due to COVID-19 and everything being shut down, many people were getting outside earlier than normal, causing store likes Ski Hut on East 4th Street in Duluth to see an increase in outdoor gear sales over the past few months.

“We did not expect to be this busy and so going into this, it was very nervous in trying to determine how to move forward so we’ve kind of just let it evolve,” Larson said.

And like many other stores, they’re struggling to keep up with the demand.

“Our biggest challenge is actually having inventory for all of our customers needs because it’s difficult to even get from our vendors because it’s happening all over the country,” Larson added.

Ski Hut said that they were mostly selling bikes when the pandemic first hit, but now with the warmer weather, kayaks and paddles are becoming more popular.

“More people are coming in for almost everything. We are seeing people that are interested with the warmer weather. And because it’s been so beautiful and the condition on the lake has been so beautiful, it hasn’t been too rough for paddling so people want to get out there for sure,” Larson said.

And while keeping up has been challenging, the workers enjoy getting to share their love of the outdoors with their customers.

“I like my mountain bike, I like getting out and riding trails. It’s really fun and exciting,” Neustel said.

“I actually have been paddling every morning at 5 in the morning at the lake just outside of Lester. It’s been beautiful and calm and then you just go 100 yards across the street and your on Lester’s mountain biking trail,” Larson added.

And helping customers realize the beauty of nature, and how helpful getting outdoors is for your mental state.

“With all of the stress that has occurred with these different times, i think a lot of what we need to do is we need a lot of mental health. Just being out in nature is significant to help that and just seeing the beauty,” Larson said.

“Getting outside kind of helps clear your mind of some of the worries you might have and realize that we are in a beautiful place and sometimes being outside can be therapeutic and ease your mind a little bit,” Neustel added.

Ski Hut will also be starting to offer free paddling classes on Monday mornings. To learn more, visit their website. 

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