The demand for outdoor recreational equipment has continued into this second summer of COVID-19.
MAINE, Maine – It might not feel like Friday, but the midsummer months are only weeks away. For many Mainers this means that the riding season is getting closer and closer.
“You look forward to it, we look forward to it, we look forward to it,” said Luke McCannell, vice president of Bangor Motorsports.
Last March, McCannell and other weight training retailers had no idea what to expect as the COVID-19 pandemic had just forced many businesses in the state to close. To his surprise, last summer sparked a new wave of outdoor exploration. More Mainers drove ATVs, bicycles, hikes or canoes than ever before.
“It’s nice to see people recharge their batteries and get excited about the outdoors,” added McCannell.
With all of these people going outdoors, the demand for new equipment was high. MCannell said every product in the showroom was sold long before the equestrian trails are open for the season.
His advice to drivers is to plan ahead when considering a new ride so they don’t get stuck in the cold or get stuck in the mud when the season starts.
Another business where demand is growing “wildly” is Ski Rack Sports in Bangor. The shop sells ski equipment in winter and bike and kayak equipment in summer.
“We have the fewest number of bikes we’ve ever had on March 26th,” said Peter Richmond, store manager.
Richmond has been with the business for ten years, but he said the demand for bicycles, helmets and other accessories has never been higher. His advice to customers is to buy the bike or other equipment while they can. He made sure he wasn’t making a sales pitch because other local stores are also thinly stretching their inventory.
“If you’re interested in this bike even from afar, just take it because it won’t be here in three days,” added Richmond.
Some manufacturers give Ski Rack Sports the date on which they can expect new motorcycles. Richmond said some models will hit stores in 2023 due to national and national demand.
In addition to driving on two or four wheels, kayaks and canoes are also in great demand before summer. Maine guides also expect another busy season.
“We couldn’t bring another person down the river [last year]”Said Lani Love.
Love is a guide with Allagash Canoe Tours. For nearly 70 years, the travel service has been guiding Mainers or out of state visitors through one of Maine’s hidden beauties. The trips last five to seven days and much of it is isolated from the “real world”.
“South Maine is not West or North Maine, there is a clear division so a lot of South Maine people would show up and they didn’t even know that this was essentially in their back yard,” added Love.
After a busy year last year, Love, her husband and other guides expect more of this in 2021 when trips resume in May.
She added that the trips allow people to relax and spend a week of normalcy as those unusual times move into a second outdoor recreational season.
“Everyone really has to be outside more often than we do,” she said.