Sportago loses customers during Northern California wildfires

Owner Ahren Trumble says the air quality is too poor to venture out in St. Helena.
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While it's no where near the devastation seen elsewhere in California, the thick smoke is keeping people off Main Street in St. Helena. 

While it's no where near the devastation seen elsewhere in California, the thick smoke is keeping people off Main Street in St. Helena. 

More than a dozen wildfires are raging through Northern California killing at least 17 people. The largest fires are burning in Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties.

Just as we wondered how outdoor retailers were impacted in Florida after Irma, we wanted to know how the outdoor industry is being effected during these destructive blazes.

Ahren Trumble, owner of Sportago in St. Helena, California, says the entire area is filled with smoke creating a thick fog and making the air quality horrible. People are not leaving their homes, and if they do, they’re wearing masks.

Read our later report on other outdoor businesses impacted by the fires.

“The town of St. Helena is in the eye of the storm right now, but the fire is everywhere around us,” he says.

“We continue to watch as the fires move through some of the places we have loved to hike, bike, and run. It’s really sad.” Some of these places include Annadel State Park and Skyline Wilderness Park in Napa.

Here's how the industry can help shops impacted by natural disasters.

He says since the fires broke out, he has seen a huge dip in customers, mainly because it’s so smoky, and people don’t want to go out in these hazardous conditions. He chooses to stay open to help maintain a sense of normalcy during this chaotic time. Plus, since the city was without power, he wants to be a source for solar lanterns, camping fuel, and other items people may seek out during a power outage.

“They’re advising people to stay off the roads since all of the evacuation traffic is coming through the area,” he explains. More than 20,000 people have already been ordered to evacuate Northern California and 2,000 homes and businesses have been destroyed by the fires.

“At this point, we’re hunkered down and waiting for the next step,” Trumble says. With an anticipated strong wind gusts expected this evening, he is concerned what that means for the store. “At this point, you have to have a bag packed and be ready to go.”

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