Business Beat: Forging friendships through common ground
New outdoor store offers high quality backpacking, hiking, fishing gear
WILLIAMS - Back in the day, Howard's Sportway was the place to be if you were a local outdoor enthusiast. Today, Gordon Wheeler, owner of Elk Horn Trading and Sporting Goods, hopes to reproduce that same friendly atmosphere with his new outdoor store.
"When people start catching fish, I want pictures. I want the picture of the kids holding their two and a half inch trout. I want their first deer pictures. I want to be the place locals go," he said.
Growing up in Williams, Wheeler bought the building in hopes to emulate Howard's Sportway, which to him was a leading example of a flourishing downtown business.
"It's hard to get locals to shop locally. I've been in downtown businesses for a long time and there is always something restricting them. In Flagstaff it's the parking and in Sedona the downtown is strictly for the tourists," he said. "I want this to be the type of place where people can come in and feel like family."
Specializing in high quality hiking, fishing, camping and backpacking supplies, Elk Horns' outdoor gear selection ranges from hiking poles to a full line of men's and women's clothing, hunting gear being one exception.
"I love to hunt, but there are already places around here specializing in hunting gear, and not everyone wears camouflage," he said.
Elk Horn Trading has been open for business for about a month and Wheeler is slowly working on his inventory, specializing in affordable Columbia clothing. Fishing equipment is also a new addition.
"I buy a lot of closeouts so my prices are extremely good, comparable even in Flagstaff," he said.
Wheeler started work on the store in November, and is in the process of building a porch area for customers to sit and use his free WiFi.
"The building needed an identity," Wheeler said. "I want to add more stuff outside on the porch to attract people to come by and stop and at least see what is going on. I want people to stop in and give me a shot. Come look and see what I've got. I'm looking for locals to give me input."
Elk Horn Trading & Sporting Goods is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. except for Tuesdays. For more information, call (928) 635-5326