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“I’ve looked at Stockton for a long time, for 10 years or more,” said Eric Haussmann, co-owner of Kayak City-Adventure Sports. “We started looking for a building and this place came together.”
What came together was a deal on a 6,000-square-foot showroom at 1818 W. Fremont St. The location gave the brothers’ new store the visibility and parking that other sites in the city lacked.
“Parking has been a big issue,” said Haussmann. “We looked at several places that just didn’t fit what we need.”
The company’s association with Hobie Cat Kayaks also made Stockton a desirable location.
“Hobie kayaks were helpful and wanted us to open a spot to serve the Central Valley,” he said.
The Stockton store adds to the brothers’ locations in Sacramento and Big Break Marina in Oakley. The brothers also rent paddle boards at Lake Natoma in Folsom.
The Stockton location has approximately 100 kayaks and paddle boards in stock.
“We have over 2,000 boats in Sac with at least 100 more here,” said Haussmann. “If you don’t find it here, we can find what you want at our Sacramento store.”
One thing helping drive the increasing popularity of kayaking is the very phenomenon that is causing so many problems in other parts of the economy: the drought.
As rivers and lakes have seen reduced flows, many people can no longer get their large boats down rivers or into areas that are popular for fishing. Smaller boats such as kayaks have no such problems navigating shallow waters or avoiding obstacles like rocks or trees that now protrude from the water. That has led to the proliferation of fisherman using kayaks.
“Fishing (from kayaks) is huge. There are millions and millions of people involved in it,” said Haussmann. “One of the popular things right now is boats with that have fish pole holders. Hobie, right now, can’t make enough kayaks to satisfy people.”
As well as being more maneuverable and better in shallow water, a kayak costs significantly less than most fishing boats. Lower end models can be purchased for as little at $500 with higher end boats costing $5,000.
“They are certainly cheaper [than boats] and they are great if someone just wants something to cruise around,” he said.
He said that the area’s improving economy combined with the sport’s rising popularity is helping prompt people to spend money on kayaks. Top-of-the-line models can include elaborate seating and pedal propulsion systems that make rowing a thing of the past.
“An up-and-coming system with the kayaks is the pedal system,” he said. “We do eight to 10 brands that have that.”
Kayak City expects to continue its growth employing up to eight workers during its busiest times of the year. Currently the Stockton location will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.
“We are one of the largest Hobie dealers in the U.S.,” Haussmann said. “We just want to keep on serving the area.”