These days it is hard not to be concerned about our national economy.
Closer to home we are all bearing the burdens of the economic hard times we face. Layoffs, bank mergers and going out of business signs are part of our daily life.
In times like these we should try and “buy local” whenever we can.
Here in the Valley we have some wonderful small businesses that provide the goods and services for hunting and fishing.
Hunting and fishing are economic engines that support our local economy. Not only do the sales of gear and equipment mean jobs for those who make and sell those things, but there are jobs and economic benefits beyond those businesses.
People who work in manufacturing and retail live in the local communities. They buy goods and services like food, cars, gas and hardware locally. They are our friends and neighbors.
In Virginia hunters and anglers historically spend more than $1 billion annually. That annual spending accounted for 24,000 jobs with salaries and wages of more than $680 million.
Here are a few of my favorite hunting and fishing businesses in the Valley. These are shops and businesses I have visited and are by no means the only ones in the Valley.
Are you a bow hunter? Did you know that Parker Bows are made right here in Mint Spring? That’s right, the Valley is home to one of the largest producers of compound bows and crossbows in the world.
Full disclosure here, my brother-in-law works there, so I won’t offer an opinion on the equipment. My point is that this is a local business employing local people, supporting the local economy making equipment for bow hunters.
You cannot buy the bows at the factory, you need to buy them from local dealers. Here in the Valley you can buy Parker Bows at Dominion Outdoors in Fishersville and the Rockingham County Farm Cooperatives.
Kevin Harris and Todd Reed started Dominion Outdoors with a small storefront in 1994. The new store off Tinkling Springs Road is a hunter’s and fisherman’s delight.
If there is a local “one-stop shop” for hunting and fishing gear Dominion Outdoors fits the bill. They strive for good customer service and in my case succeeded.
They have a complete archery department, of course with a bow technician on site to help with set up.
The gun racks and cases hold hundreds of rifles, shotguns and pistols. They are well stocked with ammunition and shooting supplies and have a gunsmith on hand as well.
The clerk behind the counter in the fishing department was very friendly and helpful. They have a wide selection of conventional rods, reels and fishing tackle although they were a little thin on the fly-fishing gear.
Besides hunting and fishing gear you will find clothing and footwear to meet just about every outdoor need.
Because of his work with the Izaak Walton League of America I am a big fan of Jon Ritenour and his Homestead Gun Shop in Harrisonburg.
Besides selling guns, ammo and shooting supplies, Ritenour is also a gunsmith.
His is an old time shop without frills, a shooter’s hangout. He is well known in the community and sought out by many for his views and advice.
Ritenour’s work as President of the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America is a great example of a local business giving back to the community of customers they serve.
For the fly-fishers there are three great shops here in the Valley.
Mossy Creek Fly Fishing is an Orvis shop in Harrisonburg. Brian and Colby Trow not only sell fly-fishing and fly tying gear and equipment, they also offer instruction and guided trips.
They have fishing trips to the mountains, spring creeks, private water or the James and Shenandoah Rivers. They teach fly fishing classes at their Orvis Endorsed Fly Fishing School in Harrisonburg or at Wintergreen Resort. They also offer fly tying clinics during the winter and fly tying classes year round.
Like Ritenour, the Trow brothers are involved in the local community. They are active in Trout Unlimited and Project Healing Waters, two groups I strongly support.
Harry Murray’s Fly Shop in Edinburg is another great shop. Murray’s local knowledge and skill has made him a legend. Murray routinely writes articles sharing his vast knowledge and experience with others.
He also offers lessons, guided trips and is always happy to give you the latest hot spots.
Over the mountain in Charlottesville is the Albemarle Angler. Along with fly-fishing gear they offer instruction and guided trips. Like Mossy Creek Fly Fishing they are involved in the local conservation efforts of Trout Unlimited. They are also strong supporters of Project Healing Waters.
The shop is billed as a “Sporting Lifestyle Outfitter”. They have lots more than just hunting and fishing gear. You can find dog beds, gift items and fancy sporting clothes as well.
These days of economic challenges make it tough for all of us. Here in the Valley we are fortunate to have friends and neighbors who work in businesses that make our days in the field or on the water better.
Next time you need some gear stop in your local shop and buy local.
There are two sports shows coming up at the end of the month.
The Greater Virginia Sports & Big Game Show kicks off its second year on Feb. 20 that runs through Feb. 22. The show is held at the Rockingham County Fairgrounds.
The show features hunting and fishing outfitters, vendors and experts giving demonstrations, seminars and advice. There will also be chances to win guided hunts and door prizes.You can get more information on the show’s Web site at http://www.vasportsshow.com
The 22nd Annual Western Virginia Sport Show takes place at Augusta Expoland in Fishersville Feb. 27 through March 1.
Along with hunting and fishing outfitters and vendors, the Western Virginia Sport Show offers free seminars, hourly door prize drawings, contests and demonstrations during the entire three-day event.
You can get more information on the show’s Web site at http://www.westernvasportshow.com
You can read more of my columns in the News Virginian.