As a lifelong hunter and Twin Cities resident, it would make sense for Joe Rosbach to own and operate a one-stop-shop for hunting supplies and outdoor sports in his hometown.
And for the last 15 years, he has been doing just that at Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop, located at the Lewis County Mall at 177 NE Hampe Way.
“Hunting has been a passion of mine for years, so it felt like the right thing to do,” Rosbach said about opening up the shop in 2005.
He added jokingly: “If I knew how many hours I spent in this place since then, I might have changed my mind! But it works out well.”
Rosbach is a calm and easygoing figure — certainly a testament to the time he has spent behind a blind waiting for game to show its face. And at his store, which is currently limited to six occupants at a time because of COVID-19 restrictions, you’ll find evidence of his expertise.
Hanging on three of the four walls inside Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop are taxidermied deer heads, most of which came from his own hunting. Other more exotic trophies, like a tiger pelt and the hoof of an elephant that originated from India, which Rosbach says were given to him as gifts and were hunted in the 1950s, also decorate the shop.
“The tiger is a real conversation piece when people come in,” Rosbach said.
Rosbach said he is knowledgeable about the products he carries and loves offering his insight and expertise to hunters who come into his shop.
And if you’re into that kind of thing, not only could you get a tip to go along with the hunting and outdoor sports supplies, but you also might make a friend in the process.
“A lot of the customers share the same passion as I do,” Rosbach said. “A lot of the same clientele come in weekly and have for years, so I’ve made a lot of new friends.”
Rosbach said there isn’t any one item that is a best seller, but since the COVID-19 pandemic, business has been trending in the right direction for Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop, which Rosbach says is consistent with the entire gun industry.
Rosbach also mentioned the protests surrounding racial inequality that have sometimes turned violent in large urban areas as a possible reason why he has seen sales for handguns and self-defense shotguns go up.
“I’m getting a lot of first-time gun buyers,” Rosbach said.
If there has been any downside to the pandemic from a business perspective, it has been a limited inventory because gun manufacturers were not able to continue production for a while, Rosbach said.
“It’s made a lot of stuff hard to get, so any product I get right now is filling back orders or an allocation from a distributor,” Rosbach said.
In addition to owning Joe’s Outdoor Sports, Rosbach manages the entire Lewis County Mall facility. His time as manager of the mall actually precedes his time as the owner of his shop by about 10 years.
According to Rosbach, in 2005 a couple who owned a hunting shop in the same location that Joe’s Outdoor Sports Shop is now, was interested in selling so he hopped on the opportunity.
Joe’s Outdoor Sports is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Saturday during the pandemic. Hours of operation under normal circumstances are 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.