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Big Bend outdoor business booms in pandemic

Local business owner hires more to help
Posted at 6:28 PM, Feb 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-10 18:28:36-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL)  — Many small businesses have felt terrified for the future throughout the pandemic.

While some small business owners have struggled to keep their doors open, one outdoor shop in Tallahassee is thriving. In a quiet corner of Tallahassee’s Railroad Art District, business is booming.

“I’m most thankful for my customers,” said Harry Smith, owner of Harry Smith Outdoors. He offers kayaks, supplies and tours on waterways around the Big Bend. “Once you’re out on the water, obviously social distancing and being outside is the best you can get,” he added.

While social distancing shut down many businesses around the Capital City, he saw more people turning to outdoor adventures to stay healthy and entertained. “It was outstanding. I had to hire a couple more guys,” Smith explained. He says in 2020, his business grew about 110 percent compared to the year before.

“As a long-time customer and friend, Harry brought me on to help guide for him,” said Scott Pritchard. He guides customers who are looking for a safe way to disconnect from the challenges of the pandemic.

Customers like Matthew Paredes says more people are taking advantage of that freedom.

“I’ve definitely seen a huge uptick in people on the water,” Paredes shared.

The Outdoor Industry Association says running, cycling and hiking also saw an uptick in activity since the start of the pandemic. Businesses like Harry Smith Outdoors are helping people navigate through these uncertain times while dealing with the pressures of this pandemic.

Smith says they have a solid supply of masks and sanitizers to keep boats, life jackets and customers clean.