2012-07-26 / News

Venture offers Jamestowners a new way to experience island

Company rents and delivers kayaks, paddleboards, bikes
BY KEN SHANE

Beth and Jason Hatch are the husband-and-wife team behind a new local business called Jamestown Outdoors. Their business provides visitors and residents with the opportunity to paddle out on the water – or pedal around the island.

Jason Hatch hails from Rhode Island, while his wife is originally from Virginia. The couple moved to Jamestown nearly two years ago after living in Boston for nine years. They have two daughters. Jason continues to work full time in the banking software field, while Beth worked in marketing and advertising sales for Google before becoming a stay-at-home mom.

The couple has always dreamed of having their own business. Wherever they traveled, they would rent sporting equipment like kayaks or bicycles. Two years ago they were on a trip to Florida and they were unable to locate bicycles for rent. It was then that they found a company that would deliver bicycles to them. Thus, the idea for the new business was born. Jamestown Outdoors offers kayaks, paddleboards and bicycles for rent, and they will deliver them anywhere on the island.

When the couple got to Jamestown, they noticed that there was no such service available here. “We thought it was the perfect spot to be able to do these activities,” Beth said. The home-based business – the equipment is kept in a large shed and a trailer on the Hatch property – is currently in its first season. According to Beth, their customers have included people with boats moored in the marinas, people arriving on the ferry from Newport, people renting homes, and Jamestown residents who may need extra equipment to accommodate guests.

“We have been really happy,” Beth said, describing their first year. “Everyone has been really supportive of us and we’ve had a good, steady rental flow. Fourth of July really kick-started our business, and now we have more advertising through word of mouth. People are starting to hear more about us, so we are getting a little busier, which is nice.”

Beth Hatch describes this season as a “test” year. The couple will use it to determine whether they need to add more equipment for next season based on demand this year.

Both traditional marketing and social media are being used to promote Jamestown Outdoors. In addition to print advertising, the company has a website (James townOutdoors.com), as well as a Facebook page. It’s kept all in the family, as Jason designed the company’s logos and brochures, and Beth’s brother designed the website.

Another marketing effort took place Saturday when Jamestown Outdoors offered a free demo day at the town beach at East Ferry. People were encouraged to try out the equipment at no charge. The day proved to be successful for the young company, resulting in positive feedback from future customers.

The company has also had support from local restaurants and real-estate firms who have added the Jamestown Outdoors brochure to their welcome bags.

Beth said that she and her husband are open-minded in terms of how their business might grow. “We’re not ruling out anything at this point,” she said. “The bikes, kayaks and paddleboards are great, and then if we see demand for other things, we are willing to consider that.”

Jamestown Outdoors offers both traditional kayaks and the more recreational sit-on-top style. The tandem kayaks are proving to be popular with customers. Kayak rentals range from $40 for a half day on a single kayak, to $70 for a full day on a tandem. There are also several options in between. Paddles and personal flotation devices are included with the rentals.

At first the company rented only beach-cruiser bicycles, but hybrid bikes have now been added which allow riders to navigate the hilly sections of Conanicut Island more easily. Bikes rent for $25 a day or $100 for the week. Helmets and locks are included in the rental price.

All the necessary accessories are available for a nominal price as well, including racks, trailers and kayak pull carts. There is no charge for delivery, and Beth recommended providing the company with as much notice as possible, although she said that last-minute rentals can often be accommodated. To inquire about rentals, the phone number is 924-2885. Jamestown Outdoors takes cash, checks and credit cards. “Wherever anybody wants the equipment, we will deliver it to them,” said Beth.

Jamestown Outdoors will offer sunset paddles at Sheffield Cove – using a kayak or paddleboard – in August. The company has also partnered with Island Heron to provide the paddleboards for the yoga studio’s Saturday classes, which also take place in Sheffield Cove.

“We have always had a love for the outdoors, which is why we moved to this beautiful area,” the company’s website boasts. “There are so many nooks and crannies to explore along the coast of Jamestown, and we think everyone who visits this island should have the chance to visit these spots.”

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