For hiking outfitter, this holiday season feels like a path untrodden
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At Trailful Outdoor Co. in Hiawassee, Georgia, the inventory woes from early in the pandemic have started to reverse.
“I think we’ve seen most of the brands and suppliers go from extremely delayed orders to really catching up in the past six months,” said co-owner Eric Champlin. “But that’s created a tidal wave of inventory.” He expects to end the year with 30% to 40% more inventory than he’d like.
For Champlin, who runs the outdoor outfitter along with his husband, Rob Sollie, this is just one piece of what’s looking like a very odd holiday shopping season.
“Consumer buying patterns are definitely shifting,” he said. “Our branded T-shirts were a huge source of revenue for us in years past, [but] we’ve seen a lot of our shoppers kind of passing up even great sales on branded T-shirts, and instead they’re going for things that are more useful and durable, like a backpack or a tent.”
Champlin and Sollie opened their brick-and-mortar store in 2019, choosing Hiawassee in part because of its proximity to the Appalachian Trail. “We do have the benefit of being in a tourist town,” said Champlin. “It’s kind of a destination for some of the bigger metro areas around us.”
And while surplus inventory is a challenge this December, Champlin is still feeling optimistic about the future. “We would love to see both an increase in foot traffic and just an increase in shopping in general.”
“It would be nice to kind of clear out some of this year’s inventory,” he added, “just to make room for what’s coming up next for next year.”
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