Hot/Not | What outdoor gear is trending this week at Rutabaga Paddlesports in Madison, Wisconsin

Get a real-time snapshot of what's selling like crazy (and what's destined for closeout) in outdoor retail shops around the country...right now.
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Darren Bush Rutabaga Paddlesports holding two paddles in X standing in front of canoes

Darren Bush tries to make his store, Rutabaga in Madison, Wisconsin, a comfortable refuge in a crazy world.

Darren Bush, owner of Rutabaga Paddlesports, shares what’s moving at his store this week.

What’s hot?

We're seeing early interest in hard goods for holiday gifts. We usually do well with hard goods for holidays. Our customers love giving non-tchotchke gifts, like paddles, axes and knives (Gransfors Bruks and Helle are awesome), small camping gifts like headlamps, etc., and other non-sized items.

I think some people are comfort shopping—the world is kinda crazy right now, and you can come in and buy a paddle and feel normal. In that sense, people want the holidays to come as fast as possible. Christmas carols and mulled wine are comforting. (Random bizarre tweets are not.) 

Darren Bush thrives on hugs from his customers.

There's no doubt: Generally speaking, fewer people are walking through our doors. The only way to get around that is to make your store more comforting for those that do. How your staff acts, how cozy your store it: These things are important in creating a sense of normalcy. 

We're starting to move comfortable, familiar things to the front like lights and headlamps, Things that cost 50-100 bucks, that sweet spot for gifts. 

People are freaking out, these days. The world is crazy. We're trying to create a safe place where people can talk about fun stuff. In doing so, we make their lives better.    

Check out more of our new Hot/Not column.

What’s not?

Kayak fishing stuff—boats and fishing attachments—are slow right now. Our whole community is focused on deer hunting.

It could be snowing tomorrow, though, and our paddlers will be ice fishing in a month. We'll be selling snowshoes as soon as the first snowflake falls. 

I'm looking forward to the holidays. Last year we sold a few fishing kayaks and I dressed up like an elf and drove around on Christmas Eve, delivering boats and egg nog. Sure, it's great customer service, but it's also fun. I love it, and I'm home by 5:00 for dinner. 

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