Shop Talk: Corridor Paddle Surf Shop
Victor Myers runs Corridor Paddle Surf Shop the way he wants. He custom shapes balsa boards specifically for SUP surfing river waves in an old semi trailer just outside of Boise, Idaho; he closes the shop during the cold winter months and travels the world searching for ocean waves; his work vehicles run on vegetable oil; he transports his SUP clientele to the river by bike and, of course, he paddles as much as he can. We caught up with Myers to get the details on his unorthodox business plan.
As a kayaker, I drove through Boise every year. When I was looking for a place to move, Boise just kept popping up. For a kayaker it's a no-brainer. I moved here as a kayaker but got into SUP. I saw the potential and decided to go for it here. I also knew the (whitewater) park was coming.
How diverse are Boise's paddling options?
For a landlocked community it's as good as it gets. Tons of flatwater for doing sprints, quite a few reservoirs that are basically in the city limits. There's a great class II river in town and a world class whitewater park with a wave to rival anywhere. That's just in town. For whitewater you have all the classics within two hours, the Middle Fork (of the Salmon), the Main Salmon, the Selway, the Payette.
How long has your shop been open?
This is only the second year of the retail shop. I was just shaping and little by little started carrying brands. When I found out that as many people wanted instruction as wanted a new board I converted a bread truck and added a stereo and a kegerator for lessons. It was a good party.
We started off with 650 square feet with 70 boards; there was stuff on the ceiling. Last week I blew out the walls and we have about 1,500 square feet of retail space now. I have a semi-trailer for glassing with a shaping bay in here. We're footsteps from the wave (at Boise River Park). It's a pretty good location (Note: The shop has two locations one with full offerings and one with concessions and rentals only).
Is the shop a big hangout?
It's like a workshop where people are as interested in the work being done as the product on the floor. Most of the display stuff in the store is up-cycled stuff that I've built from something else. It's written on the wall, "If you don't recycle you're fired." We recycle packaging. I regrind my EPS (foam). It's definitely a boutique. You can come in to see me shape, have a beer, take a lesson, hopefully get a surf in before it's all over. It's a loitering-friendly shop.
How do your custom shapes fit into your business plan?
It went from only thing to a fraction of business model. It's something I'm passionate about but it's not that easy to make money off. But I'm always working on two or three and people are excited to get them.
What does SUP growth look like in Boise?
(Standup) is popular, it's growing but we're a little behind the bell curve on what the rest of the market is seeing. We're hopefully going to see a race series this summer. The sky's the limit. It's just starting to catch fire.
The demographics are all over the board. We have guys that want to surf shortboards all day to those who want to do SUP yoga to those going out with dogs on the front of their boards. We do fun runs down river two times a week that are just word of mouth at the takeout. It's always a really mixed group of people.
We hear you've been doing some balsa shaping. Tell us about that.
We're a seasonal shop, so every year we shut down in October and open in April. We travel mostly in Central and South America but this year we went to Southeast Asia. I've always wanted to bring in balsa. Through my travels, I've opened enough channels to get balsa coming in regularly. I'm into building boards that are just as green as possible. Wood is good, you can beat it up, restore it. That coupled with bio-resins is a joy. It's better for me and better for the industry. For the river it's a good move for guys who want to surf stuff that lasts.
What other special stuff does the shop offer?
We do a lot of stuff that's really art-heavy with local artists. My girlfriend models and is a yoga instructor so she does all our yoga and apparel.
We also use human-powered shuttles for our transport. We have these bikes from Switzerland that have roof racks on them that we can have 10 boards on. We'll have six people behind it on bikes. We're in a fun industry and we should be having fun.
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