Entertainment retailer Alpin Haus will expand its Route 30 location as it looks to meet the growing demand that has intensified during and after the COVID pandemic.
“We’ve had such demand over the years and it’s been building between here and the Clifton Park story and everything we do in the metropolitan area,” said Andy Heck, president of the company. “We are on a growth trajectory and the pandemic has taken it to a whole different level.
Leisure was one of the winners because they could do things outside safely with their families, they didn’t have a lot of options for vacationing.”
To meet the need, the company is expanding its location in Amsterdam with an area of 15,000 square feet.
Heck said the company owns the plaza where it’s located and used to operate a health club next to the company store on Route 30 in Amsterdam, but he decided to close that in order to make more space for the retail store.
Alpin Haus, a family owned business, was started by Bud Heck in 1964 with John Daly. Daly sold his stake in the company to Andy and Greg Heck in 1994. The company started as a ski equipment retailer, but has naturally evolved over the years to include other recreational options, including RVs, snowmobiles, boats, and pools, Andy Heck said.
The company will also build a new store on Route 86 in Wallkill, a town in Orange County.
“It’s been in business for a while, but we just closed to the ground this week,” Heck said Wednesday.
This will replace the Port Jervis store, which the company has outsized, he said.
A lot of the growth lately is due to people wanting to camp, buy pools or RVs, or do skiing and other outdoor sports during COVID because school sports programs are closed and people haven’t been able to travel for a while.
While school sports teams play again and travel returns, people still want to enjoy camping, their pools, and hobbies like skateboarding that they picked up during the pandemic.
“Every year we’ve been growing a little bit, but we kind of saw all of a sudden it was a whole new enthusiasm for people out on every side,” Heck said.
Heck said he believes the company’s family-oriented approach is what has helped it continue to grow over the years and gain recognition in the entertainment industry.
“We’re very focused on that,” he said. “I think we’re catching that [more] Maybe from some other companies that do what we do because they are very important to us.
Heck said that almost everyone in his family had some fun hobbies, including skiing.
“We have our family ski days and stuff like that,” he said.
The company has six locations between the metropolitan area, Hudson Valley, and New Jersey.
Most recently, the company was named a Top 50 Blue Ribbon Merchant by RVBusinessmagazine and has been recognized in the past, including being named Snow Sports Retailer of the Year; National Recreational Vehicle Dealer of the Year Year-round; Ski-Doo District Dealer of the Year; It was named one of the Best Places to Work multiple times by Capital District Business Review, according to a previous press release from the company.
“It’s a really good and satisfying feeling, especially for our team who’ve worked so hard over the past two years,” he said. “Like everyone else, we’ve done well with hiring, but we’re a little short on staff, but not like awful. So, they all had to work harder and I think it’s a little feather in their cap to be recognized by our industries and among our peers.”
The company employs about 200 people.
Heck said he, like many other companies, is watching to see how the current economic climate plays out and its impact on business.
“We worry as much as anyone because we have consumer discretion, so one of the things people will cut back on is what we sell when times are tougher, so we’re definitely watching that. At the same time, we know that if we’re talking about the economy, people have jobs. And that’s what’s different in this economic cycle. Americans love to vacation, they love to do things, so we think business is going to be good but we just don’t know that.”
Heck also said that you have to consider that many people have outdoor hobbies that they don’t want to give up.
“Whether it’s white-collar or blue-collar people, we’ve seen that everyone wants to be outside,” he said.
Heck said they have already started selling ice skates as some municipalities provide ice rinks to the public.
He said that while they were expanding they still faced challenges in meeting supply with demand. It’s a problem they’ve dealt with since things started to pop up during the pandemic.
“The good thing was that a lot of people wanted what we had, but the bad was sometimes we didn’t know when we were going to get things or if we were going to get things at all,” he said.
Going into this winter has been better, he said, but there are some things they are still having a hard time getting.
“Because a lot of what we’re doing is kind of all over the world, on the skateboarding side of the business, we’re not getting some junior skates this year—they didn’t build them for America,” he said. “We don’t get some cross-country skis because they haven’t built them enough for the world.”
Heck said they are working with clients to find other options.
Heck said that while there were challenges, there were also surprises, such as seniors getting back into skiing.
“Even people in their 50s and 60s are taking up skiing again,” he said. “It was kind of exciting.”
He said a lot of people came in with smiles and giddies like kids excited to get back to something they did growing up.
“They’re either doing it for their children or their grandchildren and that’s kind of cool,” Heck said.
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