25 Years at FISP!

Mitch & Jen circa 1999

“You’ll never make it.” We heard that over and over back in 1999, our first year at Fenwick Island State Park. We weren’t renting jet skis, and that fact irritated a lot of the customers of the jet-ski-rental business that had been here before us. In fact, eight out of every ten cars that pulled into our lot that first summer had one question only: “Do you guys rent jet skis?”

We’d been running guided kayak tours for two years prior to opening the rental concession, so we knew there was demand. But that first summer we had some awfully quiet days when more ducks paddled the waters off our beach than customers. And many days when we worried the “you’ll-never-make-its” might be right.

Two factors were in our favor, though. The kayaking industry was changing, and the eco-tourism movement was gaining momentum.

Rotomolded kayak production had taken off and there were a lot of kayak manufacturers. The intense competition between the brands spawned exciting designs, each a little more comfortable and stable than the last. Also, sit-on-top kayaks had recently splashed onto the scene. These innovations opened the paddling world up to anyone who wanted to get on the water, not just the ones nimble enough to squeeze into a frisbee-sized cockpit.

Around the same time, visitors started to ask, “What else is here at the beach?” They wanted to learn more about this special place where land and water mix and mingle. They wanted to see the wildlife, explore the nooks and crannies of the salt marshes and cypress swamps. And they wanted a quieter, more personal way to do it. As our customers’ curiosity grew, so did our business.

Fast forward a quarter of a century and kayaks are now as ubiquitous as beach chairs. What used to be an exotic activity has become a mainstay of many people’s beach vacation. And thanks to you, the best customers in the world, we are still here!

We feel lucky to have witnessed the growth of an activity with so many benefits, and privileged to have been part of so many special family memories. 

Share to Social