EDITOR’S NOTE: Annie Bailey, a rising senior at St. Gertrude, is interning with us at RichmondOutside.com this summer. She’ll be exploring the area and writing on a range of topics. This is her first piece.
Being the shopaholic that I am, when first asked to go visit and explore the Riverside Outfitters Outpost on Brown’s Island I was expecting a store full of river-related apparel and outfits. However, rather than a clothing store, what I found was a place that could outfit me with an abundance of river and recreational activities right in downtown RVA’s own beautiful backyard.
The Outpost offers kayaks, standup paddleboards and mountain bikes for rent, providing customers with the ability to walk up and easily rent the equipment, no reservations necessary. Kayaks and standup paddleboards rent for $15 an hour. Mountain bikes can also be rented for $10 an hour to be used on the canal walk and a variety of nearby trails.
On a recent sunny Monday, I hopped on a standup paddleboard, or rather the “SUP,” as the staff at the Outpost refers to it. Within 10 minutes of arriving I was already out paddling around the flat water between Belle Isle and Brown’s Island.
Last summer the Outpost was often forced to close due to the high-water conditions of the river, however this summer there’s a new option when the river is too high. The company was recently granted access to the Haxall Canal, and now the Outpost has a safe alternative to offer to paddle boarders and kayakers.
This new opportunity will improve the viability of the Outpost, said Matt Perry, the owner of Riverside Outfitters. Perry has also chosen to open the Outpost seven days a week. The past two summers it was only open Friday through Sunday.
“If customers have to think about whether or not something is open, you lose them,” said Perry who hopes that their new schedule will establish the Outpost as a more reliable and convenient presence.
With the ongoing and growing success of the Old Westham Road location of Riverside Outfitters, this Outpost was not crucial for the business, Perry stressed. Instead, he saw it as a crucial “investment for the city.” With Richmond recently voted the best river town in America by Outside Magazine, Perry went on to say, it would be wrong not to have an outpost like this one.
It appears that others are realizing Richmond’s need for something like this, too. Business at Riverside Outfitters has been growing at a steady and healthy rate. In fact, since reopening for the summer, the Outpost has yet to go a single day without at least one customer. And, Perry added, on the three Saturdays they’ve been open, business has been about double the average Saturday from last year.
When asked who the company’s most common customers are, Perry chuckled as he began to list the very diverse groups of people he had seen within the past few days. From flight attendants and tourists to native Richmonders like me, the Outpost can provide any type of “shopper” with any “outfit,” specifically fitted to match your desired level of skill and adventure. In fact, I also wasn’t completely wrong thinking that Richmond Outfitters offered apparel … they have a very good selection of affordable hats and shirts, and of course, as a shopaholic, I left the Outpost with both.