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Old 06-02-2011   #1
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557
Boulder Area Paddlers: Boulder paddle sports shop needs your input.

If you live in Boulder, you know we need a paddleshop. My business has grown into a full paddlesports rental/demo shop, which has been possible by the partnership with CKS. As you can imagine, we are now seeing the need for a paddling shop in Boulder that sells AND rents gear for all paddlesports.

We certainly don't want to go down similar paths to past Boulder shops, so I am asking for your input. If you are a boater in the Boulder area, come to our shop next Thursday at 5:30. We are having a meeting with the local paddling community. I want to know what you think our local paddle shop should be like, and what products we should have. I also have a bunch of ideas that I want to present, and get opinions from you all.

So the date of the meeting/party is next Thursday, June 9th at 5:30. We'll have "refreshments" and lots of good boater talk.

Location: 1717 15th Street, Boulder, CO, 80302 ( kind of where the old Paddleshop used to be) and diagonal from Liquor mart

Nick Wigston
Whitewater Tube/CKS Rental Center


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Old 06-03-2011   #2
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,128
I can't make it on Thursday, but here are my thoughts:

1. I'm a rafter, i don't expect a shop in boulder to carry rafts, but my $$ has gone to AAA and DRE because I can't get basic repair items in Boulder (including the paddle shops were had here in the past 5-6 years) - d rings, foot cups, glue. Also oars break, get bent or lost every year so some oars, oar parts and paddles would be smart. I would also stock drag bags, mesh duffles, oar towers, pins/clips and oarlocks/sleeves/oar rights.

2. Hours - recent shops in boulder have had hours of 10-6 or even 10-5. Most people work day jobs and therefore have a hard time getting to the paddle shop. Weekdays I would stay open till at least seven or better yet 8 pm. I would also be open both Saturday and Sunday - early - like 9 or even 8 - so people on their way to the river can stop in and get last minute items. Maybe i'm a slacker, but I but a lot of gear right before trips.

Good Luck - it would be great to have a paddle shop in boulder again.

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Old 06-03-2011   #3
DanOrion's Avatar
Indian Hills, Colorado
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,448
First and foremost: Friendly, responsive staff that don't condescend to customers. Collect underpants.
Second: All the "little shit" needed to get you back on the river: drain plugs, neck and wrist gaskets, float bags, foam.
Third: Profit, when I come in for a drainplug, underpants and end up buying a new paddle.
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Old 06-03-2011   #4
Grand Junction, Colorado
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 434
For me, simple things like having someone answer the phone instead of having a option machine pick up make all the difference. When I was living in Boulder, I almost always went to Golden River Sports because they actually answered their phones, they took the time to know their customers, they always had the small miscellaneous items like foam and drain plugs in stock. Thanks for taking the time to ask, and best of luck with your new store!
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Old 06-03-2011   #5
Boulder, Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 130
Carry good quality gear. I hate purchasing say a pair of gloves only to have them blow out after 3 days of use. If they last a season great, two seasons even better, I will be back to purchase a new pair. Last 3 days, I'm looking else where.

I think the suggestion about trying to match your hours to the "after-work" crowd is a good one.

I also think having a helpful staff that doesn't condescend, and doesn't try to BS their way through things they don't know (simply saying "I don't know" is sufficient). Also working with the customer to understand what they want without trying to push a sale. (anecdote -- Years ago I needed replace a Subaru to get a bigger car for a growing family and a long road trip.. went to a local dealer (Subaru/Chrysler dealer), said "I wish Subaru made a larger car" .. the sales person responded "Well if Subaru made a larger car it would be <the Chrysler Minivan I'm trying to sell you>" -- I walked out, and never took my business back to them).

Nose plugs, drain plugs, etc..
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Old 06-03-2011   #6
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557
Thanks for the feedback guys. I agree totally. Please come on thursday if you can, so I can meet everyone and really get a feel for what is needed.

This is all great advice.
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Old 06-03-2011   #7
KSC's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2003
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,027
Nick, I can't make next Thursday but here are a few thoughts.

Confluence seems to be the one Denver area shop that really works for me (not trying to dog on all other shops, just most of them. For instance Golden River Sports seems to do a lot of these things). The quality of their staff comes and goes but Jon seems like a real quality owner. I don't know anything about running a retail store and I'm sure many of these things are easier said than done, but here are some differences I note as a customer that make their shop work:

Inventory: I tried to support Alpine Sports Outlet but they never had what I needed in stock. I tried to get a paddle there - no Powerhouse bent shaft paddles. I tried to buy an Astral Green Jacket - out of stock. I bought the vest from Confluence then later tried to go get the vest throw rope from ASO - not in stock. Hard to support your local business when they don't stock what you need. During the middle of runoff, waiting 2-4 weeks for something to get ordered doesn't cut it- esp. when I can order from CKS and have it on my doorstep the next day.

Staff: I don't think it takes much, but a lot of places get it wrong. Staff should be enthusiastic boaters and know a lot about boating or at least present some degree of verisimilitude. They should also leave open the possibility that someone might be cooler than they are and pretend they want to be there. Another example of a cool Confluence vibe is going in there and someone pulls out some homemade salsa and beef jerky to pass around while Jon asks you about your last/next paddling adventure. That kind of thing makes you want to frequent the place.

Service: Here are examples of big pluses for Confluence:
- If I have a small gear problem like a broken backband, I know I can go there and they'll hook me up with the parts I need.
- They have people that can handle things like drytop repair if you need something done quickly.
- When I had to warranty a paddle they pulled out the exact same paddle for me as a loaner while I waited the month to get my old one back. My buddy at a competing shop got a loaner that weighed 20 lbs that looked to be from the Viking age.
- Boat/gear rentals, demos, etc.

Community: Contributing to the local paddling community makes it more obvious why it's worth buying locally not mail ordering on the computer in my underwear.
- Sponsoring winter pool sessions
- Classes
- Hosting films, paddling events, etc.
- Giving money to local events like Baileyfest, LOG, etc.
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Old 06-03-2011   #8
N. Wigston's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 557

As you all can imagine, inventory for a paddle shop is challenging. That is why I have avoided retail for so long.

with CKS behind us, we'll be able to have special orders turned around within a day from CKS, and then the customer doesn't have to pay shipping. Do you think that is a decent compromise for the growing years? That way we can try to have every basic item in stock, but if we are out, or it's something we don't have, we can have it the next day.

Obviously it would be sweet to have the level of inventory that CKS has in BV, but it's not realistic, especially at first. These are some of the ideas we will talk about next week.
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Old 06-03-2011   #9
Fuzzy's Avatar
Knife Fork of the Spoon Paddling Since: 1984
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 365
Lots of glue to huff. chicks. blue flame

good luck Nick I would support any efforts you make in the Boulder / North Front range.

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Old 06-03-2011   #10
tellutwurp's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2004
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 260
Nick, I think the kayak community is a niche market and the best way to avoid going down similar paths is to get the general public into your shop. This could be stuff like tube rentals, fishing gear, or the like. just my .02.

You'll get my purchases at the least.


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