Blackrock Outdoor changes ownership
After nearly 20 years of existence, Blackrock Outdoor Company has a new owner. Kelly Custer, who also owns Sylva’s Sheds Hunting Supply, purchased the store from owners Holly Hooper and Heather Ferguson after an August fire in downtown Sylva caused extensive damage to the store and its inventory.
Custer doesn’t necessarily see the fire’s effects as a liability, however.
“We have an opportunity to really focus on buying only the newest and the best and the most exciting, because we don’t have a whole store full of inventory that has to be sold first,” he said.
Aiming for a Black Friday opening on Nov. 28, Custer said he’s planning to “rethink” the store’s design and layout, as well as some of its product lines. In particular, he’s going to start catering to the fly-fishing crowd.
“I think it’s a completely underserved market in our area,” Custer said. “I think there’s a lot of demand and not a lot of supply.”
Jackson County, which boasts “the first and only fly fishing trail in the United States,” according to the WNC Fly Fishing Trail website, has been pushing fly-fishing as a tourist attraction lately, looking to capitalize on a sport that’s been exploding in Western North Carolina waters over the past decade. Though Hooker’s Fly Shop and Guide Service already serves Sylva, and is located a couple of doors down Main Street from Blackrock, Custer thinks there’s room for more supply where fly-fishing is concerned.
“We’ve had a ton of people come into Sheds looking for fishing gear,” Custer said.
Custer said he’s already in conversations with Orvis about adding their products to the store. He doesn’t plan to add hunting gear to Blackrock, though, instead opting to keep Sheds and Blackrock two separate, though complimentary, businesses.
“I think you’re tapping a different interest group but within the same sort of greater population,” he said. “They’re just people who want to spend time outside and value that experience. They just differ in how they spend that time.”
Custer, who himself is into mountain climbing, trekking and hunting, will be “tweaking the lines and offerings.” But he’ll be doing so with the goal of better serving the kinds of customers that Blackrock Outdoor has traditionally catered to.
“The things that sort of provide the reasons we all move to the mountains,” he explained. “The hiking, the camping, the sightseeing, being able to be outside.”