I realize you are probably annoyed that none of us has endorsed your plan to buy a watercraft from a big box variety store. There are reasons for this. Many of us recognize and value the importance of dedicated and experienced outfitters in our favorite activities – these are the people who offer good advice, quality products, expertise, including instructional classes, and who have a deeply invested interest in promoting and supporting paddle sports.
The number of dedicated outfitters has gone down quite a bit in the past decade, in large part due to competition from on-line sales and from outlets (like Costco, Dick’s, various hunting and fishing chains, and even hardware and clothing stores) that know little or nothing about the products they are selling and offer no education or product advice and support.
The loss of real watersports outfitters disadvantages those of us who are already serious about paddling by removing convenient, local access to boats, accessories, instruction and community. But it is even a greater loss for newcomers to paddle sports, since that loss deprives them of a major resource for solid, informed introduction to kayaking, canoeing and paddleboarding.
So our reluctance to support your intention to buy from Costco is two-fold. First, you are not going to get informed advice on what would best suit your needs from them, including (an most importantly) instruction and safety recommendations. Second, call us selfish, but a lot of us would appreciate if you and all others new to the sports patronize the kind of dedicated independent outfitters who have been the backbone of introducing newbies to wilderness sports for more than 5 decades but are now struggling to survive. It would benefit both you and the paddling community to buy from them.