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Local retailers stocked and ready to rock

John Vandelinder

— The sign on the Backwoods Diner reads: “Open 6:30 a.m. 10 p.m.”

Not today.

Today, the diner opens at 5:30 a.m.

Why?

It’s hunting season.

“We open early for these guys,” Backwoods Diner owner Theresa Hamonds said. “They increased our revenue by at least 40 percent.”

Most hotels, restaurants and service stations are anticipating Craig’s influx of hunters into their domain, and they are ready.

Ready for the business and, most of all, ready to rake in the cash.

More than 130,000 hunters are expected to flock to the Craig area in search of a trophy kill.

And going for the kill means stocking up on Craig goods.

Michigander Jack Eels and hunting partners Mike Reid and Ben Gorde, are visiting for their 20th season.

“We spend nearly $500 to $600 per person on these trips,” Eels said. “We buy food, get gas and, of course, ammunition.”

For his part, Conoco assistant manager Brice Reid is happy to see them come.

“It totally increases our business,” he said. “They need to get gas, and there are always the ones who come in with flat tires from the rough terrain.”

At Craig Sports, hunters are seemingly expected to stop by, as ammunition, hunting licenses and hunting equipment are at a premium.

Craig Sports owner Joe Herod said it’s the norm, come this time of year.

“Our sales double during hunting season,” he said. “They need ammo, guns, binoculars, scopes and knives.

“Where else can you find all that?”

Many hunting parties spend a considerable amount of time in their camps, and according to Eels, lodging isn’t necessarily at a premium.

It’s the food they need.

One need look no further than Safeway, where Rob Arieta and Howard Gardner were loading up a shopping cart with supplies on Friday.

“We are going to spend at least $500 in here today,” Gardner said. “We will probably be back for more, too.”

Safeway assistant manager Sandy Hagstreom is happy to see the influx of hunters to her store.

“It has been so crowded in here this week,” she said. “And it won’t slow down for a while. It’s funny, most of the hunters don’t even use bags. They just throw their stuff in a big box and roll it out the door.”

John Vandelinder can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or jvandelinder@craigdailypress.com


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