Outdoor recreation businesses see influx of customers from pandemic

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LEHIGHTON, CARBON COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – With most gyms being shut down, more people have been going outside to get active this year, which is great news for local businesses focused on recreation.

Businesses involved in outdoor recreation like the Lehighton Outdoors Center have seen an influx of people due to the pandemic.

The Lehighton Outdoor Center offers bike rentals, bike repairs, whitewater rafting excursions, and more to its customers.  This year, since so many people are itching to get outdoors, owner Jerry McAward says bikes and repairs are hard to come by. 

“People are finding a way out. And the bikes around the planet were the first thing people saw as a way to get out and enjoy the outdoors. They were looking for new bikes and repair their old bikes.”  

For this local store, rentals have been doing well since many say they can’t find a bike to purchase. There is a popular trail is just outside the shop for people to enjoy.

“The D&L trail is really popular and one of the latest rail-trails in the country. In the system of things. The usage is way up this year.”

Normally, smaller groups of people would be grouped together, but due to COVID-19, whitewater rafting excursions are only available for groups of four or more that consist of your friends and/or family. Extensive cleaning measures are also in place to prevent any potential spread of the virus.

“We are cleaning in front of people instead of normal cleaning at night when we’re closed. You bring cleaners in. Cleaning in front of people is tremendously important to people.”

Not everything has been smooth sailing however, the carbon county shop has had to cancel their kayaking school this year due to the pandemic.

“There are moments in whitewater kayaking school, done correctly where we are holding your shoulders and your hands and we’re regularly breathing each other’s air. So none of my instructors were comfortable with that and neither were our guests and students.” 

People are fine with adapting to the changes, whether it’s on the water, or on the trails because they can still get a taste of the outdoors. 

“There is a wide variety of populations, urban and suburban seeking out cycling and weather they rent or buy or bring their own bike, it’s a real mecca for, it’s always been, but in a pandemic time, it’s even more so.” 

Reservations are strongly encouraged to rent a bike or go rafting.

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