Thunder Bay tourists need kayak rentals
Canoe and kayak rental market shows potential for growth
Posted: Aug 21, 2012 10:35 AM ET
Last Updated: Aug 22, 2012 9:17 AM ET
One of the few places to rent a kayak in Thunder Bay is looking for a new owner — and that's raising questions about rental opportunities in a city that stretches along the shores of Lake Superior.
City tourism manager Paul Pepe said Thunder Bay is a prime paddling location, but tourists can only take advantage of it if there are rental shops available.
"The challenge with marketing those visitor experiences is if you only have one operator — or you have no operators — you really don't have something to sell directly to the consumers,” he said.
"Kayaking is a huge experience and one that's seen a lot of growth in the last decade. The fact that there's … some epic paddling at our doorstep ... [is] an opportunity that continues to have growth potential."
Bruce Hyer, who has owned Wildwaters Canoes and Kayaks for 35 years, agrees the market has room for growth.
"I think competition is a good thing as long as the competition is high quality,” he said. “Several [shops], I think, would be good for Thunder Bay and probably good for the businesses as well. Really Thunder Bay could stand to have several rental opportunities for canoes and kayaks."
The MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North said he is stepping down as owner because he doesn't have the time to dedicate to the business.
Hyer's staff is selling off stock while they search for a buyer.David Tamblyn, owner of Superior Outdoors, says while the kayak rental business is strong, he's noticed more folks from the city are buying their own equipment. (Ruth Lepp and Shawn Irwin)
In the town of Rossport, about two hours east of Thunder Bay, the owner of Superior Outdoors says the kayak rental business is strong. David Tamblyn has noted, however, that fewer customers are coming from the city.
"What we've seen, particularly with the Thunder Bay market, is a lot more people have gone out and purchased their own equipment,” he said.
Back in Thunder Bay, a Wildwaters employee said there are almost no kayaks left to rent — but the shop will remain open until a new owner takes the keys.
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