When Downunder closed earlier this month, kayakers and paddleboarders mourned the loss of a rental and launch facility on the Saugatuck River.
Karen Jewell mourned the loss of her job.
For 9 years she ran the Riverside Avenue shop, and worked as an instructor. The day before it closed, Robbie Guimond — owner of Bridgebrook Marina, just a few hundred yards away — and his wife Taryn Bolotin saw Karen at Garelick & Herbs. He asked what she’d do next.
“I’m not sure,” she said.
On the spur of the moment — justlikethat — Taryn suggested she run something similar out of Bridgebrook.
That was the day before Labor Day. Last Saturday — at the Slice of Saugatuck — Karen’s Westport Paddle Club opened for business.
Quicker than you can paddle, she had created a website, made an Instagram account and printed business cards.
She provides many of the same services as Downunder: kayak and paddleboard rentals, lessons and tours. Next year, she’ll add kids’ camps.
Westport Paddle Club is not a retail outlet. But Karen will help people buy kayaks and paddleboards — making suggestions, and offering resources.
With a 30-foot dock, Bridgebrook is a perfect spot. And the location is even better than Downunder. There’s a beautiful view of the Saugatuck Rowing Club next door; it’s further from I-95 than the store was, and the entrance is away from the busy street.
Westport Paddle Club is open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday from 10 to 5, and weekdays by reservation. Click here for the website, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 203-998-1519.