Good Vibes River Gear looks to keep the good vibes going this summer
The store is looking forward to the upcoming summer season
With spring and summer right around the corner, Good Vibes River Gear is looking forward to its second full season in Craig, hopefully this time without a global pandemic affecting the season.
Opening the store was a dream for owner Josh Veenstra, who was previously working out of his garage. Before opening the store, Veenstra worked at Craig Station sewing the insulation for the pipes, which helped him realize his talent for sewing. Good Vibes River Store finally came to fruition in 2018, which was helped in part by the relationships he has built with his customer base and the want to be outside and in nature during the peak of COVID-19. The store has become known in the rafting community, in the words of Veenstra as the “candy store,” because of its wide array of things for those going on rafting trips.
“We had that little hiccup at the beginning of COVID and then towards the end of it, it definitely picked up,” Veenstra said. “This season that we’re going into right now, we’re picking up so much momentum over the last few years that it is definitely that dream coming true; probably going to have to start hiring people and maybe even looking into expanding into a bigger better building.”
The store, which is not related to the nearby Good Vibes Dispensary, serves people from around the country, as people have been coming in recently to get supplies for rafting trips to places like the Grand Canyon. However, the Yampa River is a destination for rafters around the country.
“It’s like one of the last natural undammed, six day raft trips in the nation……Today we see it’s the most sought after river permit in the nation,” Veenstra said.
As the city of Craig works to bring in tourists through the local waterways and a potential white water rafting park on the horizon, that only means good things for Veenstra and his business.
“It gives us availability to host water rescue courses and also doing a little bit more education for the river and the river hydraulics, kind of more of a river knowledge course is the main thing,” Veenstra said. “Ultimately what it is going to do — not only for my shop, but for the city of Craig — is give it an identity that it cares about its environment and its river system.”
Veenstra has ideas to stop Craig from being a drive through location on the way to Dinosaur, by increasing the economy in the local area.
“ If their vacation is tied with the national parks or coming to Craig to recreate, they need to have some sort of incentive as far as a discount,” Veenstra said. “Like if you stay at this hotel, you get a discount at this restaurant and then the two entities can start to feed off each other’s success and then as one is more successful the other will also in the end kind of reap the benefits.”
Aside from river equipment, the store sells a lot of items for camping kitchens, including hand wash stations and drying racks, mesh trash bags and utensil holders. The store also custom makes beach mats which allows the sand to fall through the mats. As a result, that section of the store is part of their highest sellers. The store’s website has helped their growth, as the website sales have doubled year over year since the opening date in 2018.
This rafting season has already proved fruitful for the Good Vibes River Store as they started seeing an increase in business from those hitting the water.
“A light turned on March 1st, that was basically the season started and trips started going down Westwater (Utah) and people were buying more gear for the Grand Canyon trips that are starting to pick up again,” Veenstra said. “Down south their season is already starting and so it’s like full fledged March-April-May-June, those are our months.”
As it has for many other businesses, COVID has resulted in supply chain issues as suppliers are running out of different things after not being able to sell items last year. The supply chain issues will last until September according to Veenstra.
“All of the retailers were doing the exact same thing they were giving everybody an allowance like, ’you don’t have to take this,’ but the exact opposite is happening this year. There was so much demand for stuff last year that we can’t get resupplied this year,” Veenstra said.
COVID was a definite learning experience for the store as it forced them to realize just how small the rafting community is especially when compared to the population as a whole.
“While dealing with COVID last year we kind of realized that the market, people that participate in outdoor activities and whitewater is really small in proportion to the population and what we saw last year was that those people had to get interested, they had no other choice but to try it,” Veenstra said. “Once these people have tried outdoor rec and whitewater in general they have become majorly addicted to it. They didn’t even know that outdoor rec was possible and COVID forced them to go outside and explore.”
The store also has a rental program that includes everything from ammo cans to kayaks to water jugs. It also includes what Veenstra says is far and away the most rented item, the paddle boards and associated accessories.
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