MISSOULA — While there have been many heartbreaking stories during the pandemic of businesses shutting down after years of service, every once in a while, we hear about a surprising success story.
That includes a small, non-descript store without a sign on South Higgens Avenue, near Dornblaser Field, which is serving a very specific clientele. Albatross Discs is your everything store for disc golf or folf. It opened in February, actually earlier than planned.
“We’re stocking shelves and we had a guy wandering in, looking around, and I say, got to be polite, you know, I've never done this before. And, ‘hey, take a look around, we're not really open’," Tyler Callsen said. We'll Google says you're open." And I'm like, "we'll if Google says we're open, we're open."
The store opened with the pandemic and a winter storm raging, opened by Callsen, a stay-at-home dad who had no business experience.
“There were definitely a few nights where I was staying up late, wondering, how many discs do I need to sell to keep the lights stay on?” Callsen recalled. He was searching for something and found it.
“I’ve never really been able to find something that I'm super passionate about, and I've always appreciated people who know what they like and stick to it. With disc golf, I want to be able to find a way to play every day. It's a natural fit.”
The store has devoted customers, high-and low-end discs, baskets, gear -- from clothing to bags, including one upwards of $400. But it’s mostly an inexpensive sport to try out for a spin.
Disc golf has a lot in common with traditional golf, aside from the name. Discs are like clubs, with putters and drivers. Like golf balls too, made for certain conditions. You shoot for a low score and there are governing bodies. It's also easy to get hooked.
“It’s the most welcoming group I've ever encountered. And everyone just wants to experience it together,” Callsen told MTN News.
At Albatross Discs, if you want to try out some equipment, use the practice range. Callsen says he’s not particularly good at it as a relative newcomer to the game, but he looked pretty good to us. His competition comes from sporting goods stores, which sell everything from bikes to bait, but Albatross Discs is content to focus exclusively on the sport.
One of the challenges for disc golf is that players say there are not enough courses in Missoula.
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