The Weekly - May 19, 2020 - 12


Due to the pandemic's travel
restrictions, outfitters are being

Workers prepare
orders to ship
at NRS's base in
Moscow, Idaho.

hit especially hard. Harder still is
estimating what the summer will
look like.
"Things are pretty tough ... it will
be interesting to see how things
play out," says Mike Wallisch, VP of
operations for Alaska Travel Adventures, whose rafting and sea kayak-

With many river guides expected to be out of work this summer, they have a friend in the Redside Foundation, created in
memory of longtime Idaho guide Telly Evans. Supporting the
education, professional development, and mental health of the
guiding community for over a decade, the Boise, Idaho, nonprofit has launched a new digital platform allowing guides to share
their stories in order to build a collective awareness and support
system for those dealing with issues from the pandemic. It also
offers a 24/7 confidential Guide Helpline focused on mental
health, as well as professional development grants, scholarships
for higher education, financial services, a health hotline, and
services for guide-owned small businesses.
So far its new #ThisIsAGuide program is being well-received.
"It's being promoted to create a sense of community in a time
when many are so isolated," says Executive Director Shannon
Walton. "This is a population composed of natural leaders who
aren't always comfortable being vulnerable or admitting that
they need help. We're here to support guides when they need it
most." Find info at	-E.B.


ing operations rely largely on cruise
ship traffic. Southeast Alaska was
expecting 1.4 million tourists this
summer, and, so far, nearly 1 million of those have canceled. "It looks
like a severely reduced season," he
says, adding they're expecting even
more cancellations. "And we don't
know yet what the travel and social
distancing restrictions will look like
when we do open."
All this has made forecasting
difficult. To start, they cut their
current predictions in half, and
then made P&L and staffing models
based on 75%, 50% and 25% of that
level. While they employ 50 guides
in a normal year, this year he thinks
they'll be down to 10. "We'll operate, most likely, but it will be with a
skeleton crew," he says. "I'm telling
guides who are reaching out to us
not to turn down any opportunities
in their own state."
It's a similar story for outfitters
across the country. Those expected
to fare the best are the ones near
large in-state population centers,
like outfitters on Colorado's Arkansas River outside of Denver or
the Sierras of California. "At least

they might see an uptick in their
local in-state guests from people
who can drive there easily," he says.
"And people will be looking to get
active outside. But right now it's
wait and see."
Longtime Outdoor Retailer
contributor Eugene Buchanan
is the former publisher/editorin-chief of Paddler magazine
and founder of


away. He was blown away-box
stores can't send out their CEOs to
deliver boats, but we can."
The online side of the equation
has been hit also, with consumers'
discretionary spending curtailed,
but even without Amazon's scale, it's
fared better than brick-and-mortar.
"We're glad we have an increasingly diversified online sales
platform," says JR Jennings of
Colorado's biggest paddlesports
dealer, CKS Online coloradokayak.
com. With sales volume up but
warehouse staff down, he notes the
pandemic has affected operations
several ways. One, they've been
selling rafting handwash stations
like crazy, he says-way more than
a normal year. Manufacturers have
also extended MAP break windows,
letting retailers like CKS offer
discounts early in the season. "And
people are buying entry-level gear
like SUPs and inflatable kayaks to
get out in the middle of nowhere,"
he says.

The Weekly - May 19, 2020

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Weekly - May 19, 2020

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