Kirk Singer, owner of Backcountry Experience in Durango, Colo., is putting his other store, Wild Mountain Outfitters in Santa Fe, N.M., up for sale. Singer told SNEWS® that his reasons are varied, but rest primarily in the fact that the past 18 months have been extremely challenging both personally and economically and he simply did not have the funds or energy to maintain inventory in two stores.
"We've had a couple of bad winters here in Durango, and one bad one last year in Santa Fe, so we are sitting on a lot of ski carryover, and that's expensive," Singer told SNEWS®.
"Factor in no snow and drought conditions and you end up with no water and that has had a direct effect on us here in Durango. Our rafting companies were done in early June eliminating a regular customer for us," he added.
The fires this summer didn't help much either Singer told us. The Durango train, a major tourist attraction, reports its ridership is down 35 percent this summer, in large part because the fire in July essentially shut Durango down. In northern New Mexico, all public lands were closed to any recreational activity -- no camping, no hiking, no boating. As a result, Santa Fe suffered.
In addition, Singer tells us that his Internet business is off by as much as 60 percent.
Still, despite the economic challenges, if you look at a straight balance sheet Singer tells us, each store individually is making money. What's really killing business, according to him, is having to absorb the growing costs of managing two very distinct inventories along with all the associated software expenses and reshipping costs (all product comes into Durango and then gets redistributed).
"When we bought Santa Fe in 1995, we had some reasonable business plans and the store grew for the first few years -- until 1998. And then sales started to drop. The main reason, I think, is that the market is so diversely different from Durango's, making it increasingly difficult to purchase one product line or one manufacturer and expect sales to do equally well in both stores. We lost that scale of economy," Singer said.
Singer, who is 63 years old and has been running his Durango shop for 22 years, also told us he wants to simplify his life too and just focus on one store, one set of challenges.
SNEWS® View: The Santa Fe store is a good one and will be a good purchase for an individual who lives in the market -- or is willing to move there -- and run it from Santa Fe. While both Durango and Santa Fe are considered "tourist" destinations, Santa Fe is an older customer that is far less interested in backcountry adventure than Durango -- meaning packs and climbing gear don't fly out the door in Santa Fe. Boots and softgoods should do very well as should products suitable for day adventures. We understand that Singer has already had a few nibbles and wish him and the prospective new owner of Wild Mountain Outfitters well. Singer is a class act and deserves a little simplicity and profit in his life now.