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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.
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.
Paddling.net is much appreciated for having informative, interesting message boards.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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
Many states border the Great Fresh Water Lakes
Paddling shops nearby to answer questions,
get unique personalized advice, info, etc. ?
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.
... you what they have. That's their livelihood.