Five Reasons to Stop Buying Your Gear From the Internet

More and more it seems everyone I know orders their kayak gear off the internet. It’s not just kayak gear. People buy everything online these days. I’m surprised to see that there are still stores that you can walk into. I’m not sure what they are for really. I don’t know how much longer it will be until there are no more stores and we just order everything from our computers. Who wants to go outside anyway?

Why should you buy your gear from your local kayak shop instead of ordering it online?

  1. The people who work in your local shop are part of your local river community. They paddle the same rivers you do. You might even paddle with them. By getting your gear from them you are keeping your friends employed.
  2. When you buy gear from your local shop you have a person to go back to if you have any problems. Let’s say you order a kayak from the internet and you need help setting up the outfitting. Is the internet going to help you?
  3. Kayaking is not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle. Hanging out in your local shop is a great way to get to know other paddlers in your area. When you’re looking for a new boat, paddle, or whatever else, talking to the other people in the store is a great way to get the scoop on what gear is working well for people and what gear people have not been so stoked on. Sure you can read reviews online but do you know who wrote them? If you talk to the staff and customers in a shop you can actually get to know a person and understand their personal experience which lends some context to the review they might give. Plus, you get the added bonus of talking face to face to a real live person. Remember when people used to do that?
  4. Kayak shops usually have info on upcoming events in the area. Just stopping in once in a while is an easy way to keep current on festivals, competitions, community gatherings, clean ups, etc. in your area.
  5. Try before you buy. Sure most companies have fit guides on their websites but I prefer to know something is going to fit before I buy it. Suppose you’re looking for a new drysuit. If you follow the size guide and order online you still run the risk of not quite having the right fit when your suit arrives. Then you have to send it back and wait even longer. Wouldn’t it be better to walk into the store, try the suit on and be able to wear it on the river the next day? What if you’re looking for a boat? Everyone wants to demo new kayaks before buying one. You can’t do that if you order your kayak from the internet. Sure you could demo from your local shop and then order online, but do you really want that on your karma next time you head out to the river?
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4 Responses to Five Reasons to Stop Buying Your Gear From the Internet

  1. Ricky says:

    I live in the East bay and rarely paddle the SFA. I’ve bought a fair amount of gear the the River Store, at least 2 boats, a skirt, and some other stuff but it’s just not often that I get there. CCK in Oakland is the closest kayak shop but it’s not exactly conveniently located either.

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    • Pete says:

      I can understand the troubles of not being that close to a shop. Until recently I lived in Reno and had to drive to Coloma to go to a kayak shop. Unless you’re having a real gear emergency, I think it’s worth it to make the trip and support the little guys. Plus if you are coming all the way up to Coloma to pick up some gear then you may as well paddle while you’re here so you kinda get two birds with one stone. 😉

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  2. Paul Redd says:

    Yes, but……. These reasons are only valid if the local store actually has drysuits to try on, the boat to demo, the outfitting supplies and expertise in-store. It’s a two way street. If you end up just ordering blind through the store and waiting, instead of the internet…..

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    • Pete says:

      You’re absolutely right. There does have to participation on both ends. However, it’s harder for the store. They have to pay for everything they bring into inventory and they assume all the risk. I used to be an independent dealer for Mac Tools. I would go around to mechanic shops on a weekly basis and sell tools. A big part of what I did was provide warranty service to the mechanics if they had any trouble with their stuff. There was a Toyota shop in town that I didn’t stop at but after a few of the techs there got in touch with me and asked me to start coming to their store I figured out a way to fit it into my schedule. When I started coming to the store nobody would talk to me. They all said that Mac Tools wouldn’t stick around and the last guy stopped showing up so they weren’t going to buy from me because they didn’t believe I would keep showing up. I did keep showing up like clockwork for months but they never began trusting me. Once a week I spent an hour of day and my fuel to come to their shop but never once sold a single dollar worth of product. From their perspective they didn’t want to support someone who they thought wouldn’t be around down the road. From my perspective, it is costing me money to get to this place where I am not doing any business at all. I’m losing money every time I go there. Eventually some other place wanted me to make time in my schedule for them and I dropped Toyota. I’ve seen the same kind of thing in kayaking. The more we buy as much as we can from out local shop, the better that shop will do and the more inventory they will be able to have in stock. As we support them the likely hood that they have what we want on the shelf when we want it will increase.

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