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Canoe Kentucky keeping its head above water as sales spike during pandemic

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Posted at 8:36 AM, Aug 06, 2020

FRANKFORT, Ky. (LEX 18) — Getting out into nature seems to be more popular than ever this summer, as people want things to do while staying safe from the coronavirus.

With that interest, sporting goods stores have seen a spike in sales of canoes and kayaks.

“It feels like a weekend day every day out here now,” said Nathan Depenbrock, co-owner of Canoe Kentucky in Frankfort.

It’s been a busy summer at Canoe Kentucky, which offers canoe, kayak and raft rentals. Days are filled with people itching to get out on the water.

Canoe Kentucky offers outings on Elkhorn Creek and the Kentucky River.

“It’s not just a trend here in Central Kentucky,” said Depenbrock. “We see it all over the east coast and probably all over the country that people are wanting to get outside and wanting to get back to nature.”

Not only that, but people are able to keep a good distance while kayaking and canoeing.

“If you’re in a canoe with two people, you’re automatically already spaced at least eight feet apart from each other,” said Depenbrock.

While Depenbrock says the rising interest is great for business, it doesn’t come without challenges. Months ago, they didn’t know how the pandemic would affect the shop, so they didn’t staff as heavily as years past. Then, canoe and kayak sales went up, but manufacturing was down because of COVID-19 restrictions.

“We’re selling out of product that we have and not able to get new product in,” said Depenbrock. “We pride ourselves on keeping anywhere from 250 to 300 boats in stock at all times and right now if you walked on here, you’re going to be down to the last 25 or 30 boats that we have right now.”

Still, the shop is keeping its head above water and enjoys seeing families trying out these activities for the first time.

And with so many first-timers, Depenbrock wants to remind people how to stay safe on the water.

“You don’t know if there is a tree or obstruction down there. You don’t know if there is a rock jutting out, so you don’t want to be jumping into those waters without that awareness,” he said. “Most importantly, it’s important to always wear that life jacket.”

With two months still left of their season, Depenbrock doesn’t expect the high interest to slow down soon.