By Jasmine Willis
LEICESTER — A local couple found a way to make their dreams come true during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Sonja Olbert and Bill Waterhouse of Dansville had planned to open an outdoor gear shop before the Covid-19 Crisis took over the world. There was nothing that was going to stop the dream from coming true. The couple looked into several places, but eventually found the perfect location in an historic building located in 134 Main Street, Leicester NY.
This old piece of small-town pride served as a Leicester Casino for many years. It would become a shelter for the homeless veterans. After being left to ruin it was purchased by a local couple who turned it into a store unit and apartments.
Olbert and Waterhouse jumped on the chance to make the store unit their outdoor gear shop they always wanted. Both have been avid hikers, campers, and backpackers for many years. They enjoy the outdoors as much as possible. Both wanted to take their expertise to the community and show what we have to offer in the natural sense.
Trail Otter opened its doors to the public on Memorial Day Weekend. The couple had this local reporter come for a walk through on July 24.
“We looked around the whole county at all the little towns. It was Louise Wadsworth at the Livingston County Downtown Development that told us about this place. We talked to the landlords and found out this was a perfect fit. We have many repeat customers already. It has been very busy,” Waterhouse said.
Olbert said she did all the art inside the store. She even did a piece for the Inspiration Trail going on now until next year in all the Livingston County small towns.
“We have really wanted to do this for a long time. Open a store close to Letchworth State Park and do what we love to do. We have enjoyed hearing stories from our customers and sharing our own experiences with them,” Waterhouse said.
Trail Otter has everything you could ever need for hiking, camping, and backpacking on the trails around the region. There is something for everyone in this outdoor gear shop.
The couple plans on having programs available for teaching outdoor skill building and hikes when the Covid-19 Crisis is over with. May of these programs are required to be in close quarters. The couple is working on creating what these programs will be about for their website. Some include map and compasses, fire building and guided hikes. The couple also hopes to get local artists and photographers represented in the shop.
“We have local maps on all the good places to go hiking. We also give a lot more than the maps offer. We always give some good advice and the secret spots you won’t find. We will give them a point of interest. We really enjoy talking to people,” Waterhouse said.
Olbert said they want to promote the other small businesses in the area as well. They have been working to collaborate with the others in the community. The community has been very supportive to the store.
Trail Otter is located at 134 Main Street in Leicester. They are open Wednesday noon to 6 pm, Thursday noon to 8 pm, Friday to Sunday noon to 6pm, and closed Monday and Tuesday. You can visit them on https://trailotter.com for more information and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/trailotterllc/