It’s not just that Hala Gear needed more office space or even more storage space, said Peter Hall, founder of the Steamboat Springs stand-up paddleboard startup.
Five years since Hall started the company out of his Steamboat home, business is growing, he said. Whereas once he was the only employee, he’s now one of 16 on the payroll. Whereas once he was concerned with the design of a small collection of boards, he now oversees a fleet. His product is sent to 100 different stores, and his words are now filled with bigger dreams still, more investors, more product and more innovation.
Hala Gear began this spring to move into a new space between Ninth and 10th streets on Yampa Street in downtown Steamboat Springs, in the former Yampa Valley Electric Association building, and soon, the young brand will be entirely headquartered there, starting somewhat officially with a grand opening party Monday.
Hala was previously working out of a building on 13th street just across the river. The office space will come in handy, but as nice as anything, Hall said, will simply be the ability to actually showcase everything Hala Gear currently makes.
“It was hard to ever be able to talk to a customer,” he said. “When people would come to our tiny office and try to look at a 12-foot long board, you couldn’t do it justice.”
Employees would end up scrambling around the office or digging through a storage trailer looking for boards to show customers.
The new space will alleviate those issues.
Hall said construction delays on the YVEA building prevented his shop from opening in its actual stall when he’d initially hoped. So, with the region’s short prime river-boarding window approaching, Hala opened instead this spring in another empty space two doors down from the one it will inhabit as of Monday’s grand opening.
That’s had some advantages, Hall said, allowing his crew to work through bugs and experiment with layout.
The new shop will serve multiple roles. It will sell gear from beyond the Hala brand, serving as a stand-up paddleboarding outfitter. It will have offices for the Hala staff. It will be a showroom for the ever-expanding Hala brand, now including such merchandise as river-friendly ankle leashes and thermoses, in addition to the the paddles and boards that started the company.
“We needed a place we could tell the brand’s story, and that place couldn’t be a trade show anymore,” Hall said. “If the only place we display everything we do is a trade show, we’re missing an opportunity.”
He’s hoping to serve as a shop for dedicated SUP fans, to intrigue passers-by into giving the sport a try and even to catch the eye of visiting distributors.
“It’s a play for brand awareness, as well,” Hall said.
Article published in the Steamboat Pilot.