Keeping Moab Afloat: The Delicate Balance a Tourist Town Must Make

Moab Gear Trader is a family-owned business at the corner of Main Street in Moab. Marshall Dvorscak has managed this community-oriented gear store since 2014, supplying the small town and its many visitors with outdoor gear.

For part of the year, Moab is a quiet little town with endless recreation opportunities and two nearby national parks. Locals have opportunities to explore the incredible landscape while stocking up on supplies from the store.

“We are busiest in the spring and fall when Moab becomes a booming tourist destination,” said Marshall Dvorscak, the owner of Moab Gear Trader. “Folks from all around the world travel here for our world-class climbing, mountain biking, white water rafting, highlining, skydiving, jeeping, and more.”

With the onset of COVID-19, local businesses were challenged to balance staying afloat and protecting customers’ lives. In the last 12 months, Moab Gear Trader went above and beyond to keep its more than 20 staff employed while taking extra precautions to keep their employees and customers safe. We wanted to ensure our community’s health and safety, but we also wanted to make sure our residents were employed through this challenging time, notes Dvorscak.

His strict safety protocols included implementing a rigid sanitization policy in the store, a mandatory mask requirement for all employees and customers, moving workstations to comply with social distancing requirements, and timing of the break room was regulated to prevent transmission of the disease.

Dvorscak also created a culture of safety within his employees. The final proof of how effective these safety protocols are is evident. Not a single cold, cough, flu, or any other winter symptom made its way through his workforce this winter, unlike previous years.

To implement the Shop In Utah Grant, Dvorscak thought creatively. Instead of having a large sale, which might have encouraged crowds, he instead started offering strategic discounts. “I want to support locals in these trying times and encourage them to continue to come in, and also I want my employees to feel safe at their place of work. Offering discounts on items I know that perform better with locals is one way to achieve both.”

And it worked. Dvorscak and Moab Gear Trader remained open throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, he started hiring individuals in need of work.

Moving forward, he hopes one day Moab Gear Trader will be able to sponsor live music events again as he did before the pandemic. “It feels like that might be far away, but as we enter a new world and restrictions begin to loosen, I hope I can support the community in more ways than just through discounts.”