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Hatfield-McCoy Trail boosts local economy

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More riders on the state's expansive system of ATV trails has meant a boom in customers for some local businesses.Last year, sales of Hatfield-McCoy Trail permits and merchandise saw some promising spikes. First-quarter revenue for the 550-mile trail system exceeded expectations, topping out almost 10 percent higher than during the same period in 2010.Mac's Cycle Supply in Danville, along with several other regional motorsports dealers, has seen a similar pattern in sales."We had been down for a couple of years, but in the past year we've really seen an upswing," said Scott McNeely, manager at Mac's. "It's not just people getting a little more confident in the economy, but the Hatfield Trail is bringing people in from all over, where they don't have the same kind of opportunities to ride in their own states."The Hatfield-McCoy Trail, with its six trail systems stretching across five counties in southern West Virginia, has been bringing outdoor enthusiasts to the state since 2000. This spring a new nine-mile section will open in Mercer County, with a trailhead at Bramwell, and will connect more than 150 miles of trails.The thousands of tourists who flock to the trails each year also wind up spending money at local hotels, restaurants and even movie theaters.At Mac's, the 19,000-square-foot motorsports showroom and service department located just four miles from the Little Coal River trailhead, those out-of-state customers make up a bulk of the business."We are seeing people from New York, Michigan, all over the East Coast," McNeely said. "We have a group of guys who come in every year from New Jersey and stop in, and a couple guys from Florida who are here every Memorial Day."
McNeely said that while it's not unusual to sell a new ATV or motorcycle to a tourist who's taking a break from the trail, more money is made coming to the rescue of those riders who run into a little trouble with their equipment."Most of the business is service calls," he said. "The trail guys are really good about getting people help when they break down, sending them our way. We work really hard to get them in and out quickly and get them back on trail so they can enjoy the rest of their weekend or their trip."Retailers from Dohm Cycles in Charleston to Hatfield-McCoy Powersports in Belfry, Ky., offer products and services geared to riders making use of the trails.At Route 119 Powersports in Danville, many of the customers who come in from off the trail are just visiting the area, but they seem excited to spend some major money while they're in town.In 2010, the store sold as many as 70 ATVs and cycles to out-of-state customers, sales manager Shawn Davis said."About 75 percent of our customers from the trail are from out of state," Davis said. "There just aren't a lot of places, not much private land, in most of these states for people to ride."Davis said he's expecting his store's local customer base to further increase as even more West Virginians, who might have typically had their own trails to travel, start taking advantage of what the Hatfield-McCoy system has to offer.
"I think we'll see more local people coming in because, even here, there are getting to be fewer and fewer private places where people are allowed to ride," Davis said.
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