I’m just wondering if most kayak and canoe shops are run by know-it-all paddling snobs? I would like to buy a kayak but dealing with those who act so superior is unpleasant at best. I’m tempted to simply not buy one at a retail shop but find a used boat online. I’ve run into the same type of sales staff at bike shops in the past. They don’t get my business.

I am thinking of getting a plastic boat, maybe a Carolina or similar boat. How is online shopping for something this big?

Generalize much?
It seems you are being somewhat unfair. People who are really involved in a sport - biking, kayaking, whatever, will naturally have strong opinions and preferences. They will also, though, want to help you get the best/most suitable equipment. I agree that used boats are a bargain, and that the “recreational” class of kayaks (as opposed to those used purely for transportation and work, I suppose), are not hard to find. However, I don’t think most shop staff are the enemy, and they could likely help you find the perfect boat for your needs.

Good luck with your search.

If you are in Houston, then you must be
talking about Canoesport. Yes, they are know it all snobs. But, they do know much of it. If that is the shop you are talking about, or one like it, the only ammunition if they have the kayak you want is to go forearmed and with knowledge. As for the Carolina, REI, I believe, carries it. Its no problem researching who carries what on-line. In fact the makers of the boats usually have a good list of dealers, both on-line and in the physical universe. Spend some time and effort. Then, ask the real question, just what does everyone who has paddled the Carolina or other kayak you are looking at think about it.

Would you prefer…
…to deal with know-nothing non-paddling boobs?

Sooo glad I’m not in retail.

This sounds a lot more like a troll from a bored regular than a real question.

If you’re for real, stick to TV and have another beer. If you’re just looking to stir up BS - have a few more or take it outside.

If you are actually interested in learning anything about paddling (instead of insulting the very people who could best help you) and plan to stick around here, please post a profile so folks can tell where you’re from and offer better advice - and your local shop owners can be forewarned.

Go EMS or REI…
you can buy whichever Carolina you want. Just don’t ask for advice from the salesperson. If they give it, don’t take it. Most are not paddlers. :slight_smile:


All Shops May Be Created Equal
But the people managing and working in the shop set the “tone” of the shop. I live near a small to medium size city and we are lucky to have several shops. The shops are all differant from my perspective and reflect the people operating them. I tend to go to the one that has attacted and kept staff who do know a great deal about kayaking but are low pressure type sales folk.

Happy Paddling,


Your big mistake…
was not walking in with your Tilly on!



and your Crocs…

and nothing else except
a speedo !



Experts not Snobs in Kalamazoo
If you are within a days drive of Kalamazoo - try Lee’s on Kilgore. You might call ahead because during the winter the shop with the boats may not be open but they will open it up if they are expecting you.

They will treat you well, talk with you about what you plan to do in terms of paddling, and help you get fitted to the right boat. They will let you demo also.

You will probably be directed to talk with either Chris or Jason and they will take time with you, tell you things you might not have known to ask, and answer your questions.

I live six hours away in a bigger city in another state.

try used?
You can probably get a nice used carolina or similar boat. Look in the classifieds here and do a search for used kayak sales.

Strike Back
I’ve seen the attitude in Dive shops, bike shops, kite shops, any specialty retailer will have the self-proclaimed experts that can rub someone with less experience the wrong way. Remember that you want something from them besides the retail transaction, they should have the all important knowledge that you don’t get online to impart to the customer. If they cannot do that in a professional way feel free to get uppity, the customer is always right.

Now this is a delicate negotiating tool, my wife usually kicks me in the shin or walks off in a huff as the tension makes her uncomfortable, but if I’m getting the holier than thou treatment from a salesman I’ll usually find some way to push his buttons and get him off focus. Then I circle and come at him from a new direction, smiling and asking about point X that matters to me. At that point average salesman/shop owner will either realize they have been talking down to you and the conversation will happily change direction or you’ll be leaving and looking for another retailer whether brick-n-mortar or online.

I won’t spend money at a shop that treats me like I don’t have the vocabulary, ergo the skills, to be shopping there.

  • Don’t buy Dive gear from Bubbles in Woodinville, WA EVER!

Sierra Trading Post
…has Carolina’s on sale for $464 plus $100 shipping.

You have to specify which Carolina.
There used to be just one which was a good all around tupperware kayak that only came in one length.

Now there are several lengths and they come in the new airlite (sp ?).



That is a pretty sweet deal. Just remember to use the 20% off coupon when ordering (it is listed at $580). If I had known this two months ago, I would have jumped all over it.

It’s the People
I called a local shop a couple of weeks ago to ask about a wing paddle, and was told, bluntly, that “there’s no such thing as a wing paddle”.

Seems to me we’d all be better served if they spent less on carpet and mood lighting and a little more on competent help.

if you have an attitude
it increases the chances that you will be met with attitude.

Sometimes people new to an activity can be a little defensive about revealing their lack of knowledge. Research done beforehand can alleviate that. If the consumer can ask better questions, I think a lot of salespeople in specialty retail respect that. I know it works with auto mechanics or electrical contractors LOL.

Does this apply to you? I dunno, I wasn’t there when you tried to do business with the, in your words “boat snobs.”

When it comes to the paddling places in Michigan I have dealt with REI Northville, Sun N Snow Ann Arbor and KayakCorral Saline I have found only friendly knowledgeable people who love the sport and would like nothing better than to have you come to love it too.

There are other good places in Mi
You, friendlyfire, must be on the East side. I’m always just passing through on my way to the West side. There are good shops in Holland, Grand Rapids, and there is a Hobie dealer in South Haven. I’ve heard good things about all of them.

However Lee’s has already proven themselves to me and is most convenient for me. They are on the level and in the case of buying something expensive like a kayak which one wants to enjoy and spend many pleasurable hours in, it helps to have a dealer who tries to get you into the boat best suited to your body, skills, and paddling plans.

Closer to home, last summer I had an experience with a dealer who wasn’t exactly a boat snob but he was more interested in selling something than making sure it was the right something for the buyer. I had a lot to learn …

and well I must have been determined to paddle because I paddled a lot this summer but not in a boat I bought from him.

it could be you, it could be the shop
yes there are plenty of snobs, but most i find are not. i find that if someone is looking for a boat, but is giving me the cold shoulder treatment, it is hard for me to be at my friendliest. but never a know it all snob. also, a general message to anyone who reads this:

people who work in retail stores have good and bad days, we don’t know what’s happening in their life. they are paid to be servants, but sometimes the public takes that too far. if you treat someone with respect, it’s usually followed by respect. if not, get out of that store and never go back!

ease up
Greyak you need to take some Valium. That or you need a cold one and some Lawrence Welk reruns. Your sounding a little stressed. People who have been in this a while might come off as snobby even when their not. I say go back another day. If you have the same experience with the sales people move on to another dealer.