Restaurants, sporting goods, and lodging are important sectors of our local economy. The point of this week’s article is to share the top five activities that are growing in popularity. Each of these growing activities will bring more dollars to these businesses in coming months and years.

Listen up community. Opportunity is on the way. As we return to work, following our last holiday of the summer season, Pocahontas County is positioned for a fantastic 2021 and for all the right reasons. Within the following statistics, there is coming a stabilization of once considered seasonal positions and additional service jobs and opportunities for other individuals.

According to a recent article in American Outdoors, bicycle sales increased 63% in June 2020 versus the same time last year. Bicycle sales reached $697M in June 2020. Dollar sales of paddle sports increased 56% in June 2020 versus the same time last year. Paddle sport sales reached $172M in June 2020. Inflatable versions of kayaks and paddle boards gained popularity as consumers found they were easier to store and less expensive.

In June 2017, inflatables represented 19% of paddle board unit sales and 9% of recreational kayak unit sales. In June 2020, those figures stood at 66% and 26%, respectively. The effect of inflatables increasing in popularity and heightened demand for outdoor activity has increased paddle sport sales and transformed the types of products that comprise the category. Many retailers may need to reset their inventories to ensure they stock products that will be profitable in the future.

Camping sales increased 31% in June 2020 as consumers sought safe activities during the current COVID-19 period. Sales were likely driven by those seeking quality family time outdoors. Recreational tents grew almost two times as fast as backpacking tents, which tend to be favored by serious adventurers. In June, golf equipment sales were up 51%.

Even a rise in bird-watching was recently discussed in a New York Times article. While stuck at home, consumers have (again) connected with nature. As a result, binocular sales saw a 22% sales increase in June 2020.

The trend is clear. With regard to selling what Pocahontas has, we are Nature’s Mountain Playground. You should know America is already buying. We can offer something for each of the preceding categories. The MFTP recreation economy initiative has landed, (or should I say is taking off), moving Marlinton and Pocahontas County into 2021 and beyond. Our region is on the right track for future progress.

Now, we need to work on attracting a recreational pro-duct manufacturer to our county. Ideally, that product would have a wooden component.