Standup paddling is definitely growing. But where, and how? In this exclusive SUPthemag.com series, we go directly to the source, interviewing shop owners from all corners of the country, the ones on the frontlines of the standup movement to find out what's driving their business….
One would hardly expect to find a surf shop in Michigan but theThird Coast Surf shop defies expectations. In 2005, in New Buffalo, Mich., a town an hour outside of Chicago, surfer and businessman Ryan Gerard brought his passion for water sports to the Midwest. Thanks to standup, the fruit of his passion is still growing today.
SUP mag: When did you get into the SUP phenomenon? And why?
Gerard: Third Coast opened in 2005 and I believe by spring of 2007, maybe 2006 we were carrying SUP boards and paddles. We were the first shop in the Great Lakes region to start carrying SUP equipment. It was a direct offshoot to our surfing roots and provided an excellent way to cross train.
SUP mag: Where do you see the sport right now?
Gerard: Tip of the iceberg. With SUP more people, not just surfers are realizing the potential of the sport. The fact being that there has been an increase in SUP activity but most mid-westerners don't know what it is. So really the industry hasn't even been tapped.
SUP mag: In your area have you seen growth and interest in SUP?
Gerard: Yes. I have seen more and more recreational users. People with second homes in the area that come here on vacation are getting into SUP. We held our first SUP race last year and the turnout was great.
SUP mag: How many boards/paddles are you selling? Have you seen an increase in your SUP sales and or rentals?
Gerard: It was our best year ever. Off the top of my head I believe we sold 75 boards last summer.
SUP mag: What kinds of boards/paddles are people buying?
Gerard: All kinds from the typical surf shape to the recreational lake cruiser and the ever popular combo. We carry Surf Tech, Naish, C4, & Global Surf Industry.
SUP mag: What is the biggest SUP accessory right now?
Gerard: We have been selling paddle board bags, leashes, and traction for the board if it doesn't have it. Soon I think we will be carrying more dry bags for SUP overnighters and fishing equipment for SUP.
–As told to Chad Randol
Look for more Shop Talk next week at SUPthemag.com