There are times in life when in order to move forward, you have to leave behind what brought you to today. May 1, 2016 will mark another new beginning for one of the county's must-stop retail locations. Ecology Sports, known for its exquisite selection of outdoor apparel, will be moving into the heart of downtown Sister Bay. The business will move to the unique retail space that Gage Fine Imports had occupied for many years at 10740 N. Bay Shore Dr. (Hwy 42), right next door to Bhirdo’s and across from the Sister Bay Marina.
Describing Ecology Sports, co-owner Alicia Kersebet said “my father felt the importance of getting kids outdoors.” The business's origins took place in Manitowoc, Wisconsin In 1972. The success spawned a second store in Kohler, and then a third store in 1984 in the Country Walk Shops in Sister Bay. It was in 1999 that Alicia and her husband Joel purchased the business, moving the establishment to its current location in northern Sister Bay at the corner of Hill Road and Highway 42. Soon thereafter, Joel renovated the basement into Base Camp, a successful coffeehouse and café.
It wasn’t until last year that the new opportunity arrived for the Kersebets to consider a move to the former Gage Fine Imports. Intrigued by its downtown location, which offers views of the bay, a beautiful back courtyard area, and exclusive pre-existing structures, Alicia and Joel saw potential. Their decision to move and renovate was finalized by the village renovations that are nearing completion downtown. The improvements Sister Bay has made to the waterfront park area are remarkable, creating a true shoreline gem of the Midwest. “The investments the village has made give me confidence in the planning and foresight that have come to fruition. It’s a very positive thing for business owners in Sister Bay," said Kersebet.
Although Alicia and Joel have owned the new property for about a year, they haven’t allowed their excitement to rush the transition. Ecology Sports will be moving to the new location next May, while Base Camp will remain at its current location for the 2016 season. The thought of abandoning the location that has brought them both joy and success over the last 16 years is a concern of Alicia’s. “We’d like someone to benefit from the space we’ve created,” she said.
Additional attributes of the new location, Kersebet said, include expanded parking and the obvious increase in foot traffic. In fact, the thought of finally having a sidewalk brought a definite look of fulfillment to her face.
Before the Kersebets completed the purchase, Alicia’s parents were brought in to analyze the potential move. Alicia admires the roots they’ve planted, noting she continues to carry many of the same brands her father offered back in the 1970s. Together, they discussed how the business was started, where it is now, and where they’d like it to be in the future. “We love our products and we love our customer base. We look forward to a new space because it will allow us to energize that. The foundation will always be there," she concluded.