Kayaking popularity surges during pandemic, spurs business venture

·3 min read

CANSO – Rita Collins motions toward her kitchen window and says, “As you can see, the water, people go by with kayaks all the time.”

That was her inspiration to add kayak rentals to her business enterprise this summer.

Collins owns and operates a thrift store in Canso, My Happy Place, which now offers kayak rentals from that location on Main Street.

Collins told The Journal last week, “My husband was sitting outside one day and he said, ‘You know what, a good business to start would be renting kayaks around here.’”

Collins agreed and did some research online, gauging the community’s interest in such a service, and decided “to jump in.”

The couple went online and ordered four kayaks; three singles and a double, “And the next morning the owner of the Canadian Tire in Antigonish delivered them in his truck,” said Collins.

Business in the age of COVID-19 has been difficult for most entrepreneurs, but some, like Collins have found a silver lining and new opportunities. The thrift store has seen challenges in the past year and a half, “With COVID it’s been slow. I had to shut down for a few months, too, but now we’re back and we’re doing OK,” said Collins, adding that kayaking in the area has taken off.

“Since COVID, it seems like more people are doing it [kayaking]. More people want to get out of the house and do something. That’s one of the main reasons we decided to do it and we had the financial means … so we decided why not,” said Collins of the kayak rentals.

In the past year, kayaking has become so popular that a new Facebook group has popped up: Canso and Guysborough Kayaking Group.

Janna MacKenzie, one of the administrators of the page, said in an online interview, “We have a beautiful shoreline to explore, with many little islands, coves, and beaches. It’s so nice to see so many people, young and old, finding the interest in kayaking over the last few years. With the increased interest over the last year we created a Facebook page. It works great, people are using it and posting when they are going for a paddle for others to join in on the fun, also posting pictures of their adventures. Some are planning overnight camping trips in August and I hope to get to join in on one.”

MacKenzie said of the kayaking experience, “It’s a great way to feed your soul. As you calmly paddling along the water watching the sun set, life’s problems fade away.”

That’s an experience Collins has yet to try, despite recognizing the appeal of kayaking for others.

“Neither one of us [husband Neil] have ever kayaked before and still haven’t but we’ll get the nerve soon.”

Kayak rentals are available in Canso by calling or texting Collins at 902- 318 -8133.

Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal

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