LEICESTER – From hiking to camping equipment Trail Otter, 134 Main St., is hoping to offer something different to outdoor enthusiasts.
“The store is hoping to be able to support Letchworth State Park,” said owner Bill Waterhouse.
Along with his life partner and employee Sonya Olbert, Waterhouse said they decided to open the business after moving back from Western Massachusetts in 2019 and seeing a need in the community.
“We wanted to be able to provide that to the community and there was not anything around Letchworth State Park, so we knew that we had to be in this area,” said Waterhouse.
The business he said is composed of three parts – with the first being the store that he says sells just about anything for people who enjoy the outdoors.
“We sell everything from tents to backpacks and anything that has to do with the outdoors. It is stuff that you would not necessarily find at a Walmart,” said Waterhouse.
What he said they also offer people is education and teaching different skills that people will need in the outdoors.
“It includes mapping, compass skills, fire starting and survival skills. We also have a great selection of socks, food, hammocks and all sorts of fuel for outside cooking,” said Waterhouse.
The last part of the business he said is aimed at those interested in hiking. He wants to provide guided hikes in the area.
“Some are based out of Letchworth, Naples and southern Livingston County,” said Waterhouse.
Livingston County Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Laura Lane said the new business is not only needed but wanted to help support Letchworth State Park and beyond.
“They don’t just service the Letchworth State Park market, their guide service goes much further beyond that. It is a much needed business here in the county and it a fantastic business that will add to the growth and development in Leicester,” said Lane.
For workers at Trail Otter the hikes are not about putting in so many miles per day but instead focused on safety and the proper way to hike.
“We have an introduction to hiking course that we are putting together now. We are also doing smaller hikes. We are not so much about putting down milage but just to get outside and enjoy the outdoors. It is a little slower pace, than you might go on with a hiking club that is trying to get in 15 miles a day for something,” said Waterhouse.
Trail Otter got up and running in part from Waterthouse’s participation in Livingston County Economic Development’s Dream-O-Vate competition.
From the program $200,000 was given out to nine different businesses in the area with $25,000 going to Trail Otter. The award was made as part of New York State Community Development Block Grant to Livingston County to create a micro enterprise competition for small businesses located near downtown districts.
“They helped us connected with different people, helping us find the space, signage and the money that we won helped us to purchase inventory. It has been nice to have that support. It really helped us with getting things running,” said Waterhouse.
Also helping him he said was other local businesses in the area.
“The support that we got from the other business around us has been great. The coffee shop next door has helped us with promoting the business,” said Waterhouse.
In addition to getting the word out about his business Waterhouse says he is offering personalized service, that he said is unique to his store.
“What we have found is that as people are coming in that they are very happy with the personalized service that we are able to provide. As an example, we have lots of maps of trails in the area and as we have hiked them we made notes on those maps and we can provide those to customers when they come,” said Waterhouse.
Otter Trail is open noon to 6 p.m. Thursdays to Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays.
“We offer something that no one else in this area has and I hope people will come check our store out,” said Waterhouse.