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  Anyone call a kayak shop ?
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-14-13 2:37 PM (EST)
   Category: unassigned 

How helpful are the various kayak shops in your area ?
Do they address the questions you have with knowledgeable
folks and solid advice or leave folks hanging to ask
upon these forum pages ?
Just curious how available info is in different areas.

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Messages in this Topic


  it depends
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-14-13 2:43 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-14-13 3:54 PM EST --

Riverside in Wyandotte, Lee's near Kzoo, and Kayak Corral in Saline always seem willing to help. It's also apparent that times are not easy for any of them.

I miss GRO and this great little shop, years ago, I think it was in Farmington or Livonia (I think it was called Benchmark Outdoors).

I have learned not to ask the local REI or Dick's or Wal-Mart or Gander Mountain for kayak advice.

  Michigan kayak shops
  Posted by: RavenWing on Apr-14-13 5:41 PM (EST)
all the ones named by slushpaddler are very good. Over at RKC I've noticed a few of their expert paddlers (on Team P&H, instructors) have rotated on to other things. For ww boating I'd definitely go w. Dana Corbett at Kayak Corral - he got into that over 30 years ago. They're also pretty smart about fishing SOTs.

About half of MI's kayak shops of 10 years ago went out of business. There are several reasons for that, but mostly the big E for the Economy and the big I for Internet.

Grand River Outfitters goes back ~25 years. Stan Chladek at that time was the sole importer of Valley/NDK boats in Michigan. He got the BCU program established in the state and trained many of the elder instructors who are now approaching retirement. And he kept the Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium going 2006-2009 when Riverside Kayak Connection took over. It's now run by Downwind Sports, which has locations in Houghton and Marquette (Upper Peninsula). They are also very good w. product knowledge and advice and deserve mention here.

Seakayakers in Michigan owe a lot to Stan Chladek. And hopefully they will continue to support the remaining independently owned shops.

  I got to meet Stan
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-14-13 5:45 PM (EST)
It was an honor.

I still recall his face when I heard some guy ask if the Greenlander came with a rudder.
  Kansas City Paddler
  Posted by: redmond on Apr-14-13 2:57 PM (EST)
is a great little shop. Knowledgeable, they have a lot of kayaks from high-end stuff to rec boats. Good folks, we're incredibly blessed to have them here.
  Kayak shop?
  Posted by: FatElmo on Apr-14-13 4:22 PM (EST)
Hell no... Only call "Canoo shops" fer dis here varmint!

Sorry, ah' jus' had ta say it!

(P.S. Not really sorry at all...)

  We don't have one.
  Posted by: Yanoer on Apr-14-13 4:23 PM (EST)
  Summit Sports
  Posted by: Dr_Disco on Apr-14-13 4:39 PM (EST)
in East Lansing, MI. Most of the staff have take instruction and/or are experienced paddlers. The manager for stores in the area is a certified instructor.
  Summit Sports
  Posted by: RavenWing on Apr-14-13 5:29 PM (EST)
that came in ~14 mos ago w. the new GM Trey Rouss. he previously managed the Lansing location.

He is an ACA certified flatwater instructor. The store manager at Summit Sports Brighton has gotten at least a Level 2 cert and their sales staff are encouraged/reimbursed for getting certified.

Summit Sports was at Great Lakes Sea Kayak Symposium last year running demos, a new presence there. I saw several of the sales staff in classes as well.

The previous GM was primarily a golfer (a good guy, but there is a new direction now at Summit).
  that's good to hear
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-14-13 5:42 PM (EST)
I've driven by that Brighton shop but have never stopped in. Will have to correct that.
  Tussey Mountain Outfitters
  Posted by: Big_Dave on Apr-14-13 4:49 PM (EST)
In Bellefonte, PA. Ed Bowman knows his stuff and carries a nice line of boats and paddling equipment. Always helpful.
  What do you mean by a kayak shop
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-14-13 4:58 PM (EST)
or canoe shop..? A retailer of a bunch of different boats? Plus associated gear.

I have some friends who build boats for a living. I ask them. Joe at Placid has helped me with repairs. His store was somewhat limited, more so since it caught fire in January and he is devoted to resuming building boats, which means making new molds.

Charlie Wilson has also fixed a boat for me. As has Lincoln Canoe and Kayak (bulkheads on an old Shenai) in Freeport. I guess that operation comes closest to a retail store.

  My advice--- consider the Discussion
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-14-13 5:58 PM (EST)
Forum. This is a strange topic for the Advice board.
  dilemma / paradox
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-14-13 6:02 PM (EST)
It's a discussion about Help!
  It's a lecture in disguise.
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-14-13 10:05 PM (EST)
I give lectures, too, but I don't couch them in the form of a survey.
  Yes. Been good for me a a novice
  Posted by: monstor on Apr-14-13 6:37 PM (EST)
Always had good experiences with the crew down at Confluence Kayaks in Denver. They have helped me with gear, paddles, and dry top repair.

I have not taken any of their classes, but heard form others that the classes were worth the money.
  They don't get any better...
  Posted by: ebanista on Apr-15-13 4:25 AM (EST)
...than the California Canoe and Kayak (CCK) stores in Oakland, Sacramento and Half Moon Bay. They've been here for 40 years and have sponsored and/or supported countless non-profit and informational events in that time.

Keith and Tammy have given away more advice and gear than most of us have ever known or owned, and the staff - sales, repairs, instruction - is outstanding as well.

The answer to a significant number of paddling-related questions in Northern California is simply "CCK"
  Bill & Pauls in Grand Rapids has
  Posted by: shirlann on Apr-15-13 6:33 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-13 7:08 AM EST --

knowledgeable sales people that paddle, as does Powers Outdoors in Newaygo which has another store in Montegue.
These folks carry quality canoes and kayaks and BTW gd2,this post is not a "lecture in disguise". That is just your opinion. If anything, it's letting others know of knowledgeable vendors, with integrity, in areas other than the OP's.
Thanks to willih2o for posting and thanks to the others from Michigan who noted other sources as I do shop at these type of stores.
I went into the newest Cabela's store in Grandville last week and asked a couple of sales people if they had 'kayaking PFD's'. They didn't even know what a PFD was! When I told them what it was, one of them showed me to the 'life jackets' used for water skiing.
This is why many of us stay away from "big box" stores, like Dicks, Gander Mountain, etc. You can even find kayaks and canoes in some grocery stores. Go figure. is much appreciated for having informative, interesting message boards.

  I second that!
  Posted by: monstor on Apr-15-13 6:42 AM (EST)
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-15-13 9:10 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-13 9:14 AM EST --

Many people seem to ask for advice here,on the forum,
instead of calling their local kayak shop.

Advice, Suggestions and General Help
are only a phone call away.

  why do you think that's funny?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-15-13 9:13 AM (EST)
There are regular forum participants here who have proven expertise. Bnystrom's vast resources regarding kayak repair and outfitting is just one example. Additionally, the website is a click away.
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-15-13 9:57 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-13 9:58 AM EST --

Usually people want to know "what works"
for where they live , their geography,
and who better to answer succinctly
than the local kayak shop people who paddle there.

Local info, local instructors/classes, local shops,
where people can touch, feel, sit inside kayak,
would have more relevance than some blurb on a forum.

  you don't seem to understand
  Posted by: kayamedic on Apr-15-13 10:03 AM (EST)
that many people do NOT have a "local" kayak shop.

Not sure why you are making a contest out of this. You are also dissing some good kayak clubs. Is their info useless too?
  No dis or misunderstanding
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-15-13 1:59 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-13 2:02 PM EST --

Most posts told me about shops in Michigan which
I'm quite familiar with and they know me.

A few people posted about shops in other
parts of the country, which may benefit the
crop of new paddlers exploring the waters in 2013.

Paddling clubs are a wealth of info and I
highly recommend paddling with other people.

MANY questions on the site could have been answered
with a simple phone call to a shop in that state.

  what's wrong with both?
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-15-13 10:14 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-15-13 10:17 AM EST --

I've found some good local paddling locations from others in this forum, people who, again, have proven knowledge. Some of those people have even pointed me to good local kayak shops.

As for boat fit, I only trust my body.

I don't think there's any magic to a local shop that makes it necessarily more or less trustworthy than someone in this forum with a proven track record. In both cases, one is going on the advice of a stranger. Sure, one has a workplace related to the sport.

I don't understand why one cannot use all the resources available to them, rather than automatically and arbitrarily ruling one out.

To me personally this is THE most valuable resource this website has to offer (classified ads being a close second).

  Good to have both if you can, but
  Posted by: pikabike on Apr-18-13 2:11 AM (EST) of the draws to posting on a board like this one is that there is no obligation to buy anything from the people who answer you. When you call a shop, there's always an implication that somewhere down the line you should buy from them. If they're a good shop they'll answer questions without making you feel like a jerk, but even so, I don't like to push too much for free info when their clock is running and they might have actual in-person customers *right there* waiting for the staff to get off the phone!
  At no stage in my 40 year paddling
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-15-13 10:51 AM (EST)
career have I found boat shop advice to be adequate to my needs. Not even at Nantahala Outdoor Center, where I have bought several of my boats.

Honestly, I thought you were trolling to reveal the useless and ignorant advice offered at many local shops, because that's what one should expect. Instead, you seem to think that we're wasting our time on here, asking for and giving advice, because we could get it faster over the phone at Joe's Recreational Kayak Emporium.

Well, isn't that special!
  Posted by: richardp on Apr-18-13 10:12 AM (EST)
I would never call a shop for advice unless I was planning on buying from them.
  And U have to expect them to try to sell
  Posted by: clarion on Apr-18-13 10:32 AM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-18-13 10:36 AM EST --

... you what they have. That's their livelihood.

  So this is a waste of time thread about
  Posted by: clarion on Apr-15-13 11:03 AM (EST)
... what exactly? People supposedly wasting their time starting threads?

  We are blessed
  Posted by: rjd9999 on Apr-15-13 11:13 AM (EST)
with 3 excellent shops I've worked with in the SF Bay and Monterey Area. Someone already mentioned CCK (there is one in Sacramento as well), but I'll add Sea Trek (Sausalito) and Monterey Bay Kayaks (I think you can figure out where MBK might be) to the list.

MBK is where I started kayaking in 1985, back when sea kayaking was pretty much unknown. Jeff and Cass ran a really nice shop and she has continued the same standards after Jeff's (RIP) illness. It is still my favorite shop.

  Anyone Call a Kayak Shop
  Posted by: gwonhoff on Apr-15-13 11:37 AM (EST)
Steve and Bonnie at Scappoose Bay Kayaking in Oregon are very knowledgeable and helpful. They can and will answer any and all questions asked.

  here's a nice website resource
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-15-13 1:04 PM (EST)

I love this map. I'm not sure I'd find it at my local shop, but one can find it here in
  Extremely variable
  Posted by: Waterbird on Apr-15-13 7:21 PM (EST)
Spans the whole gamut of the human personality and intelligence

Highly informative
Good communicator
Flexible (adapts to individual customer)
Not knowledgeable

To me the knowledge and communication skills of the shop are important and I will hunt across state lines for the right combination of knowledge, service, the right kayak, and the right price.
  Paddling Deserts
  Posted by: Marshall on Apr-17-13 2:22 PM (EST)
So on the flip side, who lives someplace where there isn't a paddling shop within 75 miles (arbitrary distance)? Let's use specialty shops here rather than include large box stores, just for the heck of it.

See you on the water,
The River Connection, Inc.
Hyde Park, NY
(new 2.0 website)
  someone should create a map
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-17-13 2:36 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-17-13 2:37 PM EST --

It'd be interesting to see where kayak and canoe specialty shops are (not counting liveries) in a matrix with waterbodies and population density.

Hey, if anyone could do it, the people running this website could!

  would only use shop for select info
  Posted by: jcbikeski on Apr-17-13 3:00 PM (EST)
Even with a top notch shop you may not reach the top notch person on a call. The shop may cater more to lower level paddlers making questions such as good rock gardening boats tough for them. They may tend to advice purchasing only the brands they happen to carry. They may give overly conservative advise not knowing you and not wanting liability. None of this means you shouldn't ask your shop questions, but it does mean you may want to compare that advice with other sources.
  Proximity to large water bodies
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-17-13 3:41 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-17-13 3:42 PM EST --

Michigan is sooo much different than most other states
as it's a peninsula with massive amounts of coastline
some 300 rivers and 1,000's of inland lakes.

How tough is it to find a shop in the other 50 states
that have a few large lakes and rivers ?

The sport seems to be growing each year

  it is interesting to ponder
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-17-13 4:18 PM (EST)
One would expect to find them in MI along the great lakes, near denser populations, and in the case of anything above Clare, probably has to be a resort or vacation destination as well. As I mentioned earlier, the shops I noted don't seem like they're having an easy go of it in this economy.
We are in a unique position and it'd be interesting to see where the shops are in states different than MI.
  Great Lakes Basin
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-17-13 4:28 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-17-13 4:29 PM EST --

Many states border the Great Fresh Water Lakes

Paddling shops nearby to answer questions,
get unique personalized advice, info, etc. ?

  The more shops there are, the less
  Posted by: ezwater on Apr-17-13 5:10 PM (EST)
they're likely to know. If I ran smack into one, I might check with them about local river conditions. But having driven around the perimeter of the lower peninsula, and across the top of the UP, without even *seeing* what I would call a real paddling shop (rather than a rec boat rental), I don't believe your claim that Michigan has some wealth of so-called knowledge.

And I can't understand why you think people could get the same questions answered in average paddling shops that they can get answered here. There are precious few paddling shops that have that kind of knowledge.
  The USA with all it's coastline......
  Posted by: willi_h2o on Apr-17-13 7:54 PM (EST)
-- Last Updated: Apr-17-13 8:04 PM EST --

I find it odd that a newbie would ask what kind of kayak
should I get, when the USA is practically surrounded
by water and has countless lakes, rivers, etc.
Surely local paddling shops can handle the question.

Maybe people just don't bother making the effort
to look up a phone number or address to drive there
in an age of computer keyboards.
Kayak shops live and die with traffic in their stores

I also never understood how Dear Abby flourished
with people writing her for simple advice.

Sure there are highly, highly trained, skilled,
seasoned, experienced paddlers who frequent these
forum boards and are willing to share knowledge,
for a wide variety of complicated questions.

  Posted by: jcbikeski on Apr-17-13 8:02 PM (EST)
First off I suspect that many that consider starting kayaking DO talk to folks in a kayak or other sporting good store. Which store they go to relates both to what is available and how well they advertise since, after all, these are new paddlers that don't yet know where best to go. So they may end up in a big box store for lack of knowing kayak specialty shops even exist.

But these shops are often NOT the best place to ask the question because invariably the answer would be that the best kayak for the customer just happens to be one of the ones in the shop and we know that can't always be true.

The real best answer to to talk to shops, clubs and online resources and compare what they say to who you are and what you want to get out of the sport. Limiting yourself to one source is bound to get a biased answer.
  shops are great resources
  Posted by: tdaniel on Apr-17-13 10:17 PM (EST)
and as good as the folks running them. I'm fortunate to live near Ace whitewater located in Fayetteville WV. Not only can I get great info and demo boats but I also take adavantage of the "free" shuttle they offer weekly. Brad is always ready to share his knowledge about boats. I also deal a lot with Whitewater Warehouse out of Dayton Ohio. The coowner, Bernie, is an old paddlin' buddy who'll deliver merchandise and boats to my door. My point is these people actively boat, are passionate about boating, and enjoy interacting with others. Yet, there's nothing wrong with getting some other opinions or perspectives. That's a good thing.
  I suppose
  Posted by: pirateoverforty on Apr-17-13 11:14 PM (EST)
everyone who called a kayak shop and got their questions answered never checked in here.

I live on the gulf of Mexico along the banks of the longest free flowing river in the lower 48. A new kayak shop opened nearby last year. That's 2 within 300 miles of my house.

Do you shop for cars by walking into a dealership and asking what you need?
  how do you know people don't call
  Posted by: slushpaddler on Apr-18-13 9:48 AM (EST)
Local shops for advice? Maybe they do both - call local shops and ask other paddlers.

I think part of the answer to your question is that new paddlers have little knowledge of their own to go on. That includes little knowledge of local shops and their employees, and how valid and trustworthy their opinions are. I've gotten the hard sell from a local shop before, and I had enough experience to recognize it.

A variety of opinions never hurt anyone.
  I shop at NOC
  Posted by: old_user on Apr-17-13 10:52 PM (EST)
'nuff said


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