Jim Bergquist of Crow Wing Kayaks, a locally based kayak manufacturing and sales company, opened a storefront and workshop on Highway 66 in Crosslake at the beginning of May.
Bergquist already sells kayaks through dealers throughout Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan, including JJ’s Trading Post in Pine River, but now he is trying out a store of his own.
In addition, Bergquist’s new location has a workshop, allowing Bergquist and his one employee to add custom accessories to their kayaks for customers. Turnaround for customization takes as little as a few hours to a day, though special color orders take about a week.
“What we’ve got is a show room and a work room where we put them together,” Bergquist said. “So people can come and watch us put them together, or they can come and order what they want on the kayaks. We have specific models, but those can be modified if people want an extra hatch added or however they want it.”
Kayaks can be customized with additional hatches and fishing rod holders. Bergquist has recently begun to include the option of a sail kit for his kayaks. The company is also researching designs for a ladder to help dogs climb in and out of his kayaks, and accessories for portaging and backpacking.
For the time being, Bergquist has only one employee, and he is cautiously “testing the water” of the retail sale business.
“We’re just kind of playing it by ear to see if the building is going to be large enough for us and if it works out for us for this year,” Bergquist said.
The official Crow Wing Kayaks store will be seasonal, being closed approximately from October to May, but Bergquist’s kayaks will still be produced and sold at other dealers, and on his website.
As a new business offering, Bergquist’s store also carries a small number of kayaks with slight blemishes or cosmetic defects available at 20 percent off the normal price. He is also beginning to offer kayaks for rent with a price ranging from $30-$50 depending on model and style.
Bergquist and two other new businesses plan to hold an open house in August, but the date has yet to be set. His current hours are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.