New business offers low prices on outdoor gear

Bargain Hunter Outfitters offers new, used, and consignment on hunting, fishing, camping equipment

A new family-run store with Rockford roots owes its identity to the time-honored tradition of deer camp. Jeff Winkler, a long-time Rockford resident, has enjoyed the childhood ritual of deer camp with his dad, brothers and uncles, and still loves to be in the woods hunting, fishing and camping.

Winkler believes sportsmen and women would appreciate the chance to shop for new or serviceable gear at lower prices, the chance to sell their own equipment after upgrading, and a knowledgeable source of advice on what to purchase. Bargain Hunter Outfitters offers all that and more.

“Consignment is a big part of our business,” said Winkler. “We currently have taxidermy, wood carvings, leatherwork, custom fishing poles and baits, hunting clothes and even firewood on consignment,” said Winkler. “We encourage our customers to bring in their quality used equipment. It’s a great way to clear out the closet and make some extra cash. Our products include a good sampling from our core lines, hunting, fishing and camping gear. We do have plans to sell firearms and carry a line of archery equipment. We’re waiting to see what our customers are looking for, and will tailor the business to their needs and requests.”

Winkler opened his business on May 8 of this year. He chose the location at 3720 West River Drive in Comstock Park because he believes it is very accessible to people from many locations, including Rockford. Winkler offers his years in outdoor recreation as a source of expertise for someone just starting out or looking to improve. In addition to Winkler’s own background of a life-long love of the outdoors, other members of the family help with the business and bring their own talents to the table.

Troy Winkler, Jeff’s brother, is also extremely knowledgeable in all things outdoors. Amy Winkler, a corporate financial advisor, is involved with Bargain Hunter Outfitters’ organizational requirements. Their children, Chad and Jessie, work in the store as their school hours allow. Chad is a student at James Madison University in Virginia and handles tech and online support. Jessie has just finished her senior year at Rockford High School and works as a clerk and cashier. Laurie Clark rounds out the staff and is a big help with a part-time position in stocking shelves, pricing and general store operation.

Another service Bargain Hunter offers is product search. If customers can’t find the item they need in the store, they can fill out a card with contact information, and staff at Bargain Hunter will let them know when that item comes in.

Veterans automatically receive a 10 percent discount on all purchases, and Internet specials are offered at the company’s website, “We are working on creating a true e-commerce site where customers can list their items to sell,” said Winkler. “I like to think someday it will be the eBay for hunting, fishing and camping gear.”

Winkler added, “We sell equipment, not romance. However, because we are a small business owned and staffed by people who love the outdoors, we also provide a depth of knowledge and expertise that is hard to find in ordinary sporting goods stores. We have the time and interest to work with customers and build long-term relationships. And, if anyone has the hunger for possibly true stories from deer camp, those are absolutely free!”

Bargain Hunter Outfitters is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the summer. Their phone number is (616) 719-3108.

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