JH Fly Company sells direct

A long-standing Jackson Hole fishing business’ new owner has taken the operation in a new direction.

In August, Greg Epstein bought Jackson Cardinal, in business since 1978, and now has taken the wholesale fishing gear firm online to sell directly to the fish-catching public. The new approach operates under the name Jackson Hole Fly Company.

The company’s line of rods, reels and flies for sale to anglers complements a robust wholesale business started and operated by Kirk Stone over four decades. Besides the gear there’s also advice available, Epstein said.

“We’ll be offering guidance on rods and reels to buy,” he said. “If people are interested they can get hold of us and tell us what kind of fishing they intend to do and we can direct them into the right combination of equipment.”

The rods and reels include some made especially for the company and others branded for it. Epstein contracts with about a half dozen manufacturers in Kenya to buy his company’s line of hundreds of fly patterns. The Kenyan connection, odd to those who don’t know, was born in British colonialism, which saw English fishermen looking for labor to create flies: The Kenyans, Epstein said, “have been at it for hundreds of years.”

Customers can order online and have gear delivered by mail, or they can order and arrange to pick up their purchases in person at the company’s location at 4065 S. Pub Place south of town.

“People can order online and take the local pickup option and they can swing by, we hand them their bag and send them on their way,” Epstein said.

Jackson Hole Fly Company will offer a regular stream of specials and deals, he said.

Epstein, a Jackson native, said that in the competitive fishing in Jackson Hole — the rec side and the business — offers a boost of free and valuable branding.

“I felt that when you take the brand of Jackson Hole and then you take a fly shop and mix them, there’s some sort of lever there,” he said.

Epstein is also a Teton County commissioner who is running for another term. He’s a new father, too: He and his wife welcomed a daughter seven months ago. Before serving on the commission, Epstein worked for Teton Gravity Research and as a freelance photographer.

Business has held up during the coronavirus pandemic, and Epstein said he expects his operation will do better than many businesses, given the nature of fishing: “Fishing is social distancing,” he said.

The business can be found online at JacksonHoleFlyCompany.com or JHFlyCo.com.

— Mark Huffman

Big Idaho inholding is sold

A 960-acre private parcel inside the Caribou-Targhee National Forest, 12 miles west of Driggs, Idaho, has been purchased by a national conservation group.

Sale of the Teton Timbers Ranch was handled by Hall and Hall, a regional realty firm with an emphasis on rural parcels. The clerk of Teton County, Idaho, recorded the sale April 10.

The buyer was The Conservation Fund, a national group based in Virginia that has also done conservation work in Jackson Hole. The advertised price for the inholding was $4.25 million.

There’s been talk in the local land conservation community that the intention is for the land to go to the U.S. Forest Service, though no one is going on the record about that — including the buyer.

Mark Elsbree, The Conservation Fund’s chief buyer of land in Idaho and Wyoming, said Friday that he “can’t share anything at this point” about the future of the land.

Trent Jones, a Hall and Hall partner who works from Ketchum, Idaho, also declined to reveal any plans for the land. But he said that during the two years the land was listed “everybody saw protection of this property as a priority” and that there were worries about “inconsistent uses” that might have interfered with recreation and wildlife in the area.

Jones said The Conservation Fund purchase came together late and that there had been “lots of calls” from shoppers with development on their minds. That included people intent on some minimal residential development and also one considering a “boutique hotel” that would have taken advantage of the remote location.

“I’m absolutely convinced that somebody wanting to potentially develop it” could have bought the land, Jones said.

Hall and Hall advertised the land by focusing on several Forest Service roads that offer access, 10 miles of roads on the property and several creekside homesites and big views to the Tetons to the east.

Hall and Hall also noted the land includes 12 million board feet of timber, a plan in place for sustainable harvest and the fact that tree-cutting would open more homesites. The land falls under Teton County’s Ag 20 zoning, which establishes the right to build a house on every 20 acres.

“This piece of wilderness could be one of the most desirable mountain retreats in the region,” a Hall and Hall ad read.

Hall and Hall had the listing and made the sale, Jones said.

Realtor Ken Dunn, who owns Sage Realty Group in Driggs, was on board as a co-lister.

The land includes the site of Sam, a coal-mining town that for years was the largest settlement in the area. Marquita Moseley Maytag owned the property until her death in 2011. She had homes in Driggs and Sun Valley, and as part of her colorful life served as U.S. ambassador to Nepal in 1976-77.

The Maytag estate sold the land in 2014 to an investment firm called Beartooth Group.

The Conservation Fund has participated in projects around western Wyoming, including acquiring land to preserve the “Path of the Pronghorn,” a migration route running north-south on the eastern slope of the Rockies.

The fund has also worked with the Jackson Hole Land Trust and took part in the purchase and donation to the Bridger-Teton National Forest of 37 acres of wildlife habitat up the Gros Ventre, helped habitat preservation on Munger Mountain and provided a $3 million bridge loan for the local trust’s purchase of land that later became R Park.

Jones’ career previously included time working for The Nature Conservancy.

— Mark Huffman

Nominate a businesswoman

The Wyoming Council for Women is looking for nominations by May 31 for its Woman Entrepreneur Award.

It’s an annual accolade created to shine a light on the contribution female entrepreneurs make to the state’s economy.

“Given the current impact COVID-19 is having on business owners across the state, we believe it is more important than ever to salute their courage, grit and hard work,” council Chairwoman Jennifer Wilmetti said in a press release.

Last year the owner of a pizza place in Gillette won the award, but several women from Jackson were also nominated: Shari Brownfield of Shari Brownfield Fine Art; Ruth Ann Petroff, owner of Snake River Roasting Company; Kris Shean, owner of Jackson’s Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop and chairwoman of the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce board of directors; and Jennifer Nelson-Hawks, owner of Simply Health of Jackson Hole.

Several Jackson women number among the council’s members: Kristin Walker, Jen Simon and Natalia D. Macker.

Know somebody you’d like to nominate for the award? Applications are available at TinyURL.com/y8d5qeuw.

Nominees must be women who own or operate a Wyoming-based business that has operated continuously for at least three years.

For questions about the award, contact Wilmetti at Jennifer.wilmetti@wyoboards.gov or 307-371-0519.

— Staff report

Survey aims to gauge sentiment

Economist and Jackson Town Councilor Jonathan Schechter is inviting responses by the close of business today, May 13, to the second in a series of online community surveys about people’s outlook on the Jackson economy.

In April the first survey found that people in Jackson believed summer business would be down 42% as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, autumn activity would fall by 26% and winter 2020-21 would be off by 19%.

The surveys are a “wisdom of the crowds” effort that “might give us a little more guidance on what we might expect,” said Schechter, who runs the nonprofit Charture Institute.

“My idea is to keep running it month after month,” Schechter said during a video webinar via Zoom, which was hosted by Silicon Couloir. “If nothing else, that will give us the sense of the community’s optimism or pessimism and how that’s changed over the past month.”

The survey can found at SurveyMonkey.com/r/C6X6YCW.

The first survey garnered 857 responses. Schechter said 800 or so responses this time would be “fabulous,” but even several hundred would be enough participation to be pertinent.

He aims to have results out by Friday.

During the Silicon Couloir conversation, Schechter discussed the need for long-term thinking about COVID-19’s effect on the economy. It may be that Jackson businesses are looking at several years of slowdown, he said.

— Jennifer Dorsey

Mark Huffman edits copy and occasionally writes some, too. He's been a journalist since newspapers had typewriters and darkrooms.

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