Port of Hastings Outfitters makes move and expands

By Bruce Karnick
Posted 6/13/24

Port of Hastings Outfitters (POHO) was started in 2020 by Hastings resident Eric Weber out of his home. Paul Schmitz joined Weber as partners and ultimately purchased POHO in 2021, moving the …

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Port of Hastings Outfitters makes move and expands

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Port of Hastings Outfitters (POHO) was started in 2020 by Hastings resident Eric Weber out of his home. Paul Schmitz joined Weber as partners and ultimately purchased POHO in 2021, moving the business to his home near downtown. Schmitz, along with his wife, operated POHO out of their garage until they recently made the move to the Confluence.
“This location has always been on the map for us to be at. Eric and I thought about that for a number of years that we were working together,” said Schmitz. “To finally see this happen is actually kind of a dream come true to see us be able to get a location. We had been working out of our garage and our home on Sixth Street and had great support from the city and community.”
POHO is a local adventure company that began with electric bikes, and with their new location, they now offer a pontoon boat for rental thanks in part to Randy Stenger, owner of the Extreme Sandbox and the Quarry Tap House. Randy offered up many ideas from his experience as an experiential entrepreneur. One of the big ideas was having a pontoon on the Mississippi River available as a rental.
“Getting into the Confluence here, this beautiful spot, that was a no brainer. Then our vision is really the river and roads. The river, we added with the pontoon boat. We're just starting with one to kind of test the waters so to speak, and that is another great partnership with Erickson Marina,” added Stenger.
POHO believes one of the many assets for Hastings is the local and regional trail systems, especially with the Mississippi River Greenway, a 27-mile trail that runs along the Mississippi from Hastings to St. Paul expected to be complete in the fall of 2024.
“I have known POHO for a few years and I was fortunate I bought one of the POHO bikes. I love the electric bike atmosphere and that I can pedal anywhere, and if I need assistance, I have it there,” said Mayor Mary Fasbender.
The Hastings Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hastings Parks Department worked to help provide a detailed trail map for POHO to share with their customers, including a map of the 10-mile loop.
The future for POHO is wide open and eventually they would like to add more to both the River and Road experiences, one road experience mentioned was renting the Polaris Slingshots and a member of the crowd suggested jet skis.
For now, there is one pontoon and several e-bikes available to rent. Visitors for the ribbon cutting ceremony were offered a quick, free test drive of the various e-bikes and councilwoman Lisa Leifeld took advantage. She mentioned that it felt odd at first riding the fat tire e-bikes, but she quickly adjusted to it and found them quite enjoyable. She tried both the larger fat tire bike with 26-inch wheels then tried the 20-inch foldable bike, finding the latter to be a more enjoyable experience for her average height frame. To be clear, she did like both, but the smaller bike was more her style and fit. Something the POHO folks seemed to expect, and they were happy to coach her through both bikes.
E-bikes are a blast, and yet they still offer an element of exercise, something else that people are caught off guard with. But as Mayor Fasbender said, having that assistance there when needed is really nice.
A perfect opportunity is coming up for residents to get out and give the POHO e-bikes a test run. The City of Hastings is holding a ‘bike with a ranger’ event on Saturday, June 15, from 9-11 a.m. The event takes off from the Rotary Pavilion and takes the 10-mile loop around town. You can find the registration information on the City of Hastings Facebook page and you can learn more about POHO and reserve a bike at www.mypoho.com, they will even help you get geared up with a helmet.