How do I start? What am I missing?

Hey everyone. I am near a large metropolitan city with lakes everywhere. Doing market research I have found a lack of specialty shops for paddlesports in my area. There are tons of big box stores selling entry level canoes, kayaks, and SUPs; but there is only one small storefront that specializes in racing.

I am very active in the sport. There are several local clubs, races, and Meetup groups for paddlers. Paddlesports have grown by 3million people since 2010 according to the ACA. I haven't found statistics yet, but I believe it is a fair bet that most of this is due to big box stores selling cheap entry junk and the rising popularity of Stand up paddle boarding.

Among the paddlers that I regularly go out with, almost all of them are getting their boats and boards from other states, or ordering on line and hoping the boat is the right fit for them.

I can secure financing. For that, I know I am very lucky. My family is very successful and I have never asked for a thing. Also, my credit is good.

I am looking at going to SCORE to meet with some mentors and put together a solid business plan, and learn all I can about market research. I also have several friends who are very successful small business owners that I can ask to help guide me. None of them are in retail, but they are very business minded.

I don't trust myself with the accounting. I am going to take a few classes but most likely my wife will the number cruncher. She is an amazing woman.

For location, I have an area picked out on the other side of the city. It is very near several lakes, both private residential and county Parks.

I have located a distributor that owns/sells many brands. I should be able to order everything from entry level through unobtanium. I have read as much as possible on them, but haven't contacted them yet. I want them to take me seriously, so I want to have a business plan fully together. If anyone is familiar with Confluence Outdoor I would love to hear about it.

So there's a few details, now for the dream part.

I want to offer all types of paddlesports equipment. Although my knowledge is built on recreational and racing, I will likely have more kayak fishing stuff on the walls because it is hugely popular in the area.

There is a huge need for lessons in this city. We are the home of the start of the longest kayak race in the country. Although I think everyone should be on the water, before anyone puts in on the Missouri River I think they should be familiar with self rescue techniques and know why a Walmart boat with no bulkheads may not be a good choice.

I have a wonderful friend who wants to move her yoga studio to paddle boards occasionally. The popularity of this and low overhead has brought a lot of competition. Some days at the local lakes you can see two classes going on at once. There is demand.

Being involved in the sport as much as I am I have gained some amazing friends and acquaintances and people would come to hear them speak. I know several people who have paddled source to sea on the Missouri, a friend who is now on his eighth walk across the USA to promote suicide awareness and promote his amazing book. Several racers of the MR340. Also one amazing friend who source to sea paddled at 80 years old and now is on the Appalatian trail. I think having quarterly speaking engagements could bring a lot of traffic in my store. Especially when offered with a keg of beer.

Try before you buy… The big box sports stores have a demo day occasionally, but I want to offer scheduled demos for people who may want to try a boat before they drop a mortgage sized payment to take one home. Just call me up and I will meet you at the ramp in the morning..

Tours. We have some beautiful unused waters nearby that myself and friends know intimately. Let's enjoy our resources.

The nearest paddle shop to me is a 2.5 hour drive and very successful. I love these guys. I don't want to take business from them and certainly don't want to be competition but business is business. There is enough space between us.

So, there's my plan so far. I am in the very early stages. I have been a career firefighter for 13 years and it is time for a life change. The only thing I enjoy more than my family and kayaking is introducing new people to the sport I love.

Any advice would be appreciated. If anyone here is experienced in Outdoor sports retail, I would love to hear from you.


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