The Hudson Trail Outfitters (HTO) story began in 1971. At the time, the goal was simple: “Open a store that sells the highest quality, and the most specialized equipment, gear and apparel in the entire outdoor industry.”
Now this month in 2014, 43 years later, a new “Paddling Experience concept” from Hudson Trail Outfitters, Ltd is aimed at enhancing added value for anyone buying a canoe, kayak, or SUP from the company.
Called “The Paddling Experience, by HTO, Ltd.” this unique initiative is a six-part action plan to deliver satisfaction and education, including: Boat Demo Program – try before you buy; FREE ‘on-water’ instruction and coaching; Gear and Apparel Recommendations; Accessory Discounts; Free 3hr Potomac River Tour (guaranteed to benefit any/all skill levels); and Watercraft Transport Solutions. The Paddling Experience is free with any/all new SUP, Kayak, or Canoe purchases, and is supported with in store signage, colorful hanging posters, handouts and online.
“The Paddling Experience, by HTO, Ltd is the best, most helpful, and most value added concept in the entire market. Period.” said Sandy Cohan, CEO and Owner of HTO, Ltd. “Our goal has never been to just sell kayaks or canoes or SUP’s or paddles to the community just to get a quick sale or to accessorize someone for a day out on the water. Sure, HTO can do that, but our culture is one that has always believed that it has a much bigger mission than just selling gear. In fact, it makes my skin curl when I hear people say that HTO is a gear shop. HTO is not a gear shop. HTO is an outfitter, and outfitters outfit. We’re fanatically passionate about helping people to have fun and to create memorable experiences out on the water, and to help them become a part of the paddling community. The Paddling Experience by HTO is the next evolutionary step in providing ‘Positively Outrageous Customer Service’ to all people, at all times, and in all instances.”
The concept is to take the worry out of the boat buying decision by allowing its customers the ability to “test boats before they buy them” with the company’s light hearted “Boat Buying Contract” that HTO has both its customers and its store staff sign at the time of purchase.
The company encourages customers to “bring it back” if the canoe, kayak, or SUP isn’t the perfect fit. Also included in The Paddling Experience, by HTO, Ltd. is a free three hour Potomac River Tour that begins with on-land, gear orientation, instruction, and accessory evaluation.
“Once on the water, our customers will learn self-rescue safety; paddling and stroke techniques from certified, expert paddlers; boat maintenance, and rolling tips, and this is not an experience for just beginners – this experience is guaranteed to benefit paddlers of all skill levels. Each tour lasts about three hours and HTO can almost guarantee that all paddlers will see some Swimming Turtles, Egrets, Belted Kingfishers, Fishing Osprey, and Great Blue Herons… you may even catch a glimpse of a Bald Eagle,” explained Cohan. “River Tour Instructors are Calleva certified instructors, and they also provide all paddlers with a brief history of the surrounding area at Riley’s Lock, and The Potomac River.”
HTO has partnered with some of the nations’ most premier canoe, kayak, and SUP vendors to help launch this initiative, and with one of the Washington DC Metropolitan Area’s leader in paddling education, preparation, and instruction: Calleva Outdoor Adventure. “We simply had to create an authentic, welcoming, educational, energetic, beneficial, and value added experience for any and all boat buyers”, says Cohan, “and we feel like we’ve done exactly that.” Calleva’s mission is to get people of all ages outdoors, providing an educational and challenging environment that promotes personal growth, group cooperation and leadership skill through outdoor activities.