Biz Beat: Alpin Haus continues to expand entertainment business

Entertainment retailer Alpin Haus will expand its Route 30 location as it looks to meet increased demand exacerbated during and after the COVID pandemic.

“We’ve had that demand for years and it’s only grown from here to the story of Clifton Park and everything we’ve done in the Capital Region,” said company president Andy Heck. was on a growth trajectory, and the pandemic just took it to a whole different level.

Recreation is one of the winners as they don’t have a lot of holiday options as they can safely do things outdoors with their families. “

To meet demand, the company expanded its Amsterdam office by 15,000 square feet.

Heck said the company owns the square where it is located and had been operating a health club next to the company store on Route 30 in Amsterdam, but decided to close it to make more space for the retail store.

Alpin Haus is a family business founded in 1964 by Bud Heck and John Daly. Daly sold his interest in the company to Andy and Greg Heck in 1994. The company started as a ski equipment retailer, but has grown naturally over the years to include other recreational options, including RVs, snowmobiles, boats and swimming pools, Andy Heck said.

The company will also build a new store on Route 86 in Wallkill, Orange County.

“It’s been going on for a while, but we just closed the land this week,” Heck said Wednesday.

He said it would replace the company’s already overwhelmed Port Jervis store.

A lot of that growth is due to people wanting to go camping, buy pools and RVs or engage in skiing and other outdoor sports recently during COVID, as school sports were closed and people couldn’t travel for a while.

While school sports teams are playing again and travel has resumed, people still want to enjoy camping, their own pools and hobbies they’ve picked up during the pandemic like skiing.

“Every year we’ve grown a little bit, but we’re just suddenly seeing a whole new enthusiasm for the outdoors in every aspect,” Heck said.

Heck said he believes the family-oriented approach to the business has helped it continue to grow and gain recognition in the entertainment industry over the years.

“We’re very concerned about that,” he said. “I think we noticed that [more] Maybe better than other businesses that do what we do because it’s so important to us,” he said.

Heck said nearly everyone in his family has some recreational hobby, including skiing.

“We have family ski days and things like that,” he said.

The company has six locations between the Capital Region, the Hudson Valley and New Jersey.

The company was recently named a Top 50 Blue Ribbon Dealer by RVBusiness Magazine and has received recognition in the past, including being named a Snowsports Retailer of the Year; National Premium RV Dealer of the Year; Ski-Doo Regional Dealer of the Year; and has been repeatedly named one of the Best Places to Work by Capital Region Business Review, according to the company’s previous press release.

“It feels really good and gratifying, especially for a team that we’ve worked so hard over the past few years,” he said. “Like everyone, we’ve done a good job staffing, but we’re Just a little bit of a shortage, but not that bad. So they all have to work harder and I think it’s a small thing for them to be recognized by our industry and their peers.”

The company has about 200 employees.

Heck said he, like many other companies, is watching how the current economic environment will play out and how it might affect business.

“We’re as concerned as everyone else is that because we’re consumer discretionary, one of the things that people will cut back on is what we’re selling in more challenging times, so we’re definitely going to be looking at that. And we know at the same time that if we talk about Economics, people will have jobs, so that’s what’s different about this economic cycle. Americans like to vacation, they like to do things, so we think business is going to be good, but we just don’t know.”

Heck also says that you have to take into account that many people take up outdoor hobbies that they don’t want to give up.

“Whether it’s white collar or blue collar, we’re seeing everybody want to stay out,” he said.

As some municipalities offer rinks to the public, they’ve actually started selling skates, Heck said.

While they have been expanding, they still face the challenge of supply meeting demand, he said. They’ve been dealing with it since things started to pick up during the pandemic.

“The upside is that so many people want what we have, but the downside is sometimes we don’t know when we’re going to get it, or we don’t know at all if we’re going to get it,” he said.

He said it was better going into the winter, but some things were still hard for them to come by.

“Because a lot of what we do is global, in the ski business, we didn’t get some junior ski boots this year—they weren’t made for the U.S.,” he said. “We didn’t get some cross-country skis because they didn’t make enough skis for the world.”

Heck says they work with customers to find other options.

Heck said that while there are challenges, there are also surprises, such as older adults getting back to skiing.

“Even people in their 50s and 60s are getting back to skiing,” he said. “It’s kind of exciting.”

He said many came in with smiles on their faces and excited like children to go back to what they grew up doing.

“They’re either doing it for their kids or for their grandkids, which is pretty cool,” Heck said.

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