One family business is making a splash in the local economy.
Steve Wright and his family took over Escape Outdoors’ kayak rental in September and in recent months, business has been booming.
Now averaging about 100 people on the weekends, Wright said they can’t handle the recent influx of paddlers. They are looking to invest in more boats for the newly named business, Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental.
“We have 40 kayaks and on the weekends that just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore,” he said.
Use of the canal for recreation has grown rapidly in recent years. Wright said it would have been rare to see anyone traveling the canal by foot or boat more than 20 years ago. Wright said there are two reasons his business is doing so well.
“People are becoming more and more aware of what a treasure the Augusta Canal is,” he said. “For a long time it was hard to access, but it is very easy now with the park opening up the way it is.”
In the case of kayaks, he said, renting is more economical than buying.
“They don’t have to transport their own kayaks, they don’t have to load up the truck, they don’t have to drop off the kayaks or take two cars,” he said. “A lot of the time, it is more economical simply because its convenient.”
And if convenience isn’t enough for Wright’s customers, it might be the low-cost prices that keep them coming back.
During the week, singles cost $15 and tandems, two-person kayaks, cost $25. Prices increase by $10 on the weekends and all rentals include three kayak necessities – paddle, life jacket and whistle.
To purchase a kayak in the Augusta area, the lowest average price is between $150 and $200, although one could spend more than $900 on a high-end kayak.
The rental kiosk also provides a shuttle pick-up at Lake Olmstead Park for $5. The business now runs two shuttles to satisfy the rising number of paddlers and boats.
Wright said he never thought renting kayaks to people would ever be this popular.
“Honestly, I thought it was going to be a sleepy little job and I could sit back and relax,” he said. “It has gotten so busy that I worry about it now. We’re trying our best to keep up with everything.”
Savannah Rapids Kayak Rental is located at Savannah Rapids Pavilion in Evans.