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Outdoorsman Economics 101

January 19, 2011
By Stacey Kuttler, Staff Writer
Okay, we already know that the economy is in a struggle and certain sectors of business have seen a bigger decline than others. Obviously medical, insurance, banking and oil have their usual big smiles on their faces. Oil goes up and so does the cost of our groceries and utilities. Folks in this area are still struggling with unemployment and low-paying jobs, but evidenced all over are still those people that have money to spend. And I am not talking just rich folks here, I’m talking middle class – both lower and upper that are taking their well-earned dollars and after paying for bills and necessities they have some income to spend. Where do they spend it? Over a broad range of things. But what I am more interested in is the spending toward the grand ‘ol hobby of being an outdoorsman or woman. It’s a big money sector that fuels the economy of pretty much every state. And the money that comes into my wallet.

Through my years at OVO I have written articles but the job that I get paid for is advertising sales. I have to have businesses run advertisements to earn my paycheck. When businesses are doing well, sometimes they don’t bother to advertise. And when they are not doing well at all, they don’t have the money to advertise (which may have a negative impact on fixing their financial situation in response), so I sell less ads. When I don’t sell as many ads, I don’t make as much money, and so I have less money to spend at businesses. See the ripple effect?

I interact with mostly outdoors-related businesses both locally, statewide, throughout the country and even into Canada. I always ask them, “How’s business?” And I get a variety of answers that are based on different factors. Factors that interest me greatly. Last year I took the time to send out a media kit mailing to our local realtors in the area for the Times. I mentioned in the letter that they could run a general advertisement or could list any property that might appeal to those who hunt and/or fish. Seemed rational enough, but when I began making follow-up calls to their offices I received a pretty negative response. I was asked by one realtor why I would have contacted them at all. I replied back that people that hunt and fish have jobs and buy houses just like any other person with hobbies and that it was not accurate to think we lived in cabins in the mountains. It was frustrating. And for some reason or another I often run into animosity from non-outdoors related businesses, especially those folks who have no interest in hunting and fishing. I guess those people fail to see that we still have disposable income.

Walking into a local gun shop, archery store, bait and tackle, etc., and asking them about sales yields different results based on location and the season. Some stores do better than others and they mostly maintain the same clientele over the years. Some seem content to not try to solicit customers from other areas, and others are very excited to show new customers what they have to offer. These small business owners deal with higher overhead costs and the pain of customers going to big retailers for their purchases. Most of these owners welcome competition but it’s become more and more difficult to compete in a world of Internet shopping and large, overstocked retailers. But what they do offer, which seems to lack at the retailers, is customer service. And to a lot of consumers, customer service is very important, and oftentimes is well worth the small, extra cost. And with ever-increasing pressure to buy local and buy American — consumers are thinking a lot harder about where they go.

Retailers offer the convenience of one-stop shopping, decent prices and larger selections. So they are not necessarily a negative when one also considers that dollars spent there also support local jobs.

Shopping on the Internet yields great opportunities for product/service research and can often yield great bargains. The downside is that you can’t see or touch the product until it arrives on your doorstep and by then you have already bought it and must go through a return process if it doesn’t meet expectations.

Internet research presents a great opportunity to look at hunting and fishing outfitters and hopefully choose the one that is right. Unfortunately with people staying closer to home to get their trophies, these outfitters have been hit with fewer reservations. The economy isn’t always fair across the board but when tourism suffers, we all suffer. For tourism pushes a lot of local economies either into the black or into the red. In the Guernsey County/Cambridge area the economic impact of tourism nets $1.9 million annually and supports 1,822 jobs.

According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (www.sportsmenslink.org) there are 1.5 million hunters and anglers spending $5.3 million a day. That’s right, a day, for $1.9 billion annually. One out of every six Ohioans hunt or fish and support 33,000 jobs. That’s more than the combined employment of Ohio State University and Proctor and Gamble, the two largest employers in the state. The spending of Ohio sportsmen is more than the cash receipts for soybeans, the state’s most valuable agricultural commodity ($1.9 billion vs. $1.2 billion).

Sportsmen as a whole in this county are a $76 billion force (more than the revenues of Microsoft, Google, eBay and Yahoo combined). There are approximately 34 millions hunters and anglers in this country supporting 1.6 million jobs. Considerably we are a strong demographic force. After we are done buying licenses, stamps, tents, quads, hunting dogs, tackle, bait, clothes, guns, bows, food, gas, boats, property, taxidermy services, ammo, game calls, decoys, scopes, lodging, and whatnot — we are supporting jobs and the local economies. See, now you don’t have to feel like you’ve been so selfish. For many reasons, it is for the greater good of us all. Even for those that don’t agree with hunting, you’ve given them one less deer to hit with their car. Good job!
 
 

 

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