Generally, we will help these local “Mom and Pops” close to our home locations, promoting the Malibu Kayak brand as best we can. I am always amazed at the energy these shop owners have, and their unabashed willingness to share their thoughts on the kayaking industry.
This week I am in Bethany Beach, DE for a long-awaited vacation, and am finally meeting up with my wife and three kids who have been up here all summer. Once I settled into vacation mode, I decided to see where the nearest Malibu Kayak dealer was in the area. One quick query on the Malibu Kayak website, and I found Paddle House Outfitters in Ocean City, MD - just 15 miles from Bethany Beach. After my traditional first breakfast of pancakes and Milton sausage, I decided to head on over and extend the folks there a greeting from Central Florida.
The area between Rehoboth, DE through Bethany Beach and down to Ocean City, MD is a summer haven for many vacationers from not only Maryland and Delaware but New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. This was the height of the summer vacationing season, so the traffic for the 15 miles to the Paddle House was thick with vacationers meandering along U.S Highway 1 in search of the hundreds of shops, restaurants, hotels and beach access parking lots lining the highway.
Paddle House Outfitters is located three miles off the beach on Highway 50 in Ocean City. When I arrived, I noticed right away that unlike many shops I have visited, the Paddle House displays almost half of their kayaking inventory outside. This is a feat in itself, as all these kayaks must be brought back inside at the end of each business day for safekeeping. Joe Norton, a fellow Malibu “Stealth 14” owner and fishing enthusiast, greeted me as I entered the shop, and then introduced me to the owner Andrew Grossman. Andrew has owned the Paddle House for 18 months - quite an accomplishment given the current economic climate. He, too, is a kayaking enthusiast. Although he enjoys kayak fishing, he generally enjoys his kayaking - like many other do - for the relaxing serenity it provides. Once we made our initial introductions, Andrew gave me the tour of his shop.
The Paddle House has it all! It’s a true one stop shop for all your kayak fishing needs: paddles, life vest, carriers, rigging, kayak outfitting, clothing – the list goes on. I would sneak a few “do you haves” into our conversation, just to see if I could come up with something he didn't have. Nope - he has everything the kayak enthusiast would need to outfit their kayak, and is happy to assist his customers obtain anything else. He even has fishing package rentals for those who would like to fish from a rented kayak. Inside the shop is an outfitting work room where Andrew and Joe install any rigging options their customers want.
Andrew has also dedicated one room of his shop as a library where his customers can research anything kayaking, watch manufactures product videos, read kayaking periodicals and the like. This was a first for me. A library - what a novel idea! Andrew displays some very interesting kayak and fishing art from local artists. Also on display in the library is an artist depiction of the pirate Blackbeard. Andrew regaled me and three teenaged children with the story of Blackbeard and how some locals believe he has a long-lost treasure buried on one of the nearby islands. The story was entertaining, but in the end Andrew couldn't point us to the “X”.
Our next stop was outside, where many of his kayaks are displayed for those who travel into Ocean City along Highway 50 to see. Andrew was none too happy that the state had planned the repaving job for the highway during the peak vacation season. I was pleased to see several Malibu kayaks prominently displayed, and Andrew informed me they continue to be his best seller. One of the kayaks displayed outside was a fully rigged Malibu Kayak “Mini X” Andrew has offered as a raffle prize as part of a contest with a local radio station. Also outside sit two nicely painted semi-trailers used as show rooms - one for recreation-type kayaks, and one for fishing types. Along one side of the fishing trailer sits his fleet of Malibu Kayaks awaiting the next customer.
If you are in the DelMarVa (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia) area and are looking for a Malibu kayak or kayaking accessories, give The Paddle House a visit. They have plenty of minnows and minnow accessories to suit the needs for the Gilligan in all of us. Check out my previous articles "Maiden voyage of the SS Minnow" and "The Minnow and the professor".
About the Author: Pete is a Team Malibu Kayak Member residing in St. Cloud Florida and covers the hundreds of fresh water lakes in the area.