COVID-19 might be shuttering businesses, but for some the pandemic has presented an opportunity. Trouts Fly Fishing, for example, relocated from its Sixth Avenue store to 1025 Zuni Street on the South Platte River on July 10. Ultimately being located on the “Denver South Platte,” a nickname coined by Trouts, sold owner Tucker Ladd on the new location.

The highlight of the move is a 60-foot deck overlooking the river, something recently added to the building. “Eventually we’d like to have a little pathway down to the river,” Ladd says. “All of a sudden when we’re back to in-person learning again, our beginner casting clinics can take place down at the shop on the river, not out at a park a five-minute drive away.” The deck is also equipped with shade structures, a grill, and chairs.

View of the South Platte from Trouts. Photo by Cassidy Ritter

Inside, shoppers find themselves entranced with interactive displays. National fly fishing brand G.Loomis built a table showcasing how rods are made, starting with graphite wrapped on a mandrel. Ladd says the goal was to make buying a fly rod experiential. The other side of the table is used to help guests narrow down their choices. Nearby, a rod rack houses 100 fly rods of varying applications, sizes, and price points. “As we’re wanting to go through the selling process, you bring the rod over to the rod table where we can now talk about a few rods [at a time],” Ladd says.

The 5,000-square-foot building also offers a large retail space, a classroom, office space, a loading dock, and beer on tap from Denver Beer Co.

While the new location, sandwiched between two hot tub manufacturers just off of I-25, may seem odd to many, Ladd says it works. Trouts has always operated on a “retail island” away from other shops, and the new location keeps with that trend.

Ladd, who purchased Trouts in 2005, says he has wanted to revamp the fly fishing shop for years. He signed a lease for the new space on Zuni at the end of February and construction began on March 1—then COVID-19 hit, forcing Trouts to temporarily close its two locations (it also has a store in Frisco). “What’s interesting is how all of this created opportunities that wouldn’t otherwise have been there,” Ladd says. For example, COVID-19 put carpenter and angler Scott Wells out of work. So he could spend the majority of the next three months in the new shop, building most everything on-site.

“While this crisis has been so negative on so many people, it has been the biggest bright spot for me every single day,” Ladd says. “I have to remind myself that and be thankful and just so appreciative of that, because while this has been life changing in negative ways for so many people, it’s provided myself, my family, my employees so much opportunity.”

Trouts is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. The shop is still offering curbside pickup and shipping online orders.