Jim Bergquist, of Crosslake, found successors to continue running his Crow Wing Kayaks shop in Crosslake.
Bergquist started the business years ago in a building between C&C Boat Works and Dairy Queen in Crosslake. New owners Elysha and Tom Novak have not only purchased the business from Bergquist, but they have also moved the business back next door to Dairy Queen in a new building constructed on the lot where Bergquist once rented space.
Just like Bergquist, the Novaks will continue to manufacture, sell and rent kayaks.
The Novaks have been living in the Crosslake area for the past five years, running Novak Services, a construction company. However, they have had a cabin in the area since 1991 and even then they had considered the possibility of owning a shop locally.
"We've always wanted a storefront business in Crosslake of some sort," Tom said. "It's been a dream for many, many years."
Crow Wing Kayaks really spoke to the couple and their children, who all love the lakes and the Pine River.
"We were actually looking for kayaks and saw that the whole shop was for sale," Elysha said. "We are very much on-the-water kind of people."
"The river is appealing to me," Tom said. "I absolutely love the Pine River and I was looking for something to get on the river other than a tube, and this was it. I tried a kayak at a friend's house and I thought it was great."
A major draw was the local manufacturing of the kayaks.
"We found out they were the best kayaks around," Tom said. "Then it was kind of a hidden secret that we found out they were made right here in Crosslake. That's what got it all started."
There will be some changes, some temporary and some permanent. Bergquist had also coined the name Wind, Water, Wheels for his rental services, but the Novaks decided to do rentals, sales, shuttling and other services all under the Crow Wing Kayaks name. They also decided to simplify the rental business, at least for now.
"The bike part we have eliminated this year for now," Elysha said. "(Jim) was leasing (bicycles) from somewhere else. We do have lake floats, paddle boards and kayaks right now."
The couple also found themselves too busy to maintain the Crow Wing Paddlers kayak club. Bergquist, however, has been continuing local paddling trips under that moniker.
"I figured let's just let Jim keep doing it," Tom said. "He's passionate about it."
The store will also carry fewer base models on hand for sale. Previously, Bergquist carried six different models. The Novaks will carry four. The difference is in accessories, which the Novaks will gladly install while the customer waits.
"We're going to try to have the shop full of kayaks ready to go," Tom said. "You're going to walk in the door, pick it, and it may take 10-15 minutes to customize them while you are at the Dairy Queen, but we want you to be able to walk out with a kayak that's ready."
The Novaks are also increasing their shuttling service. Since taking over operations July 1, Tom has been shuttling kayaks almost constantly. Currently the Novaks and their family are the only employees, but eventually they would like to expand by two to four more employees, especially to include employees capable of helping shuttle kayaks to the river.
They'd also like to start shipping nationwide and possibly to update kayak models.
"We've had people from Canada, Michigan, Florida and Colorado, and we're having a hard time finding someone who will ship for a somewhat decent price," Elysha said.
Travis Grimler may be reached at 218-855-5853 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Travis.