Marie McAden



Sunrift Adventures turns sale into community event

Posted 9/12/2012 3:36:00 PM

After hearing all the hype about Sunrift Adventures’ Annual Rental Equipment Sale, I had to see it for myself. Was it really the huge community event it’s made out to be?

Looking to purchase whitewater boats, my husband and I headed up to Travelers Rest Friday night to scope out the goods. By the time we arrived at 7:30 p.m., 350 kayaks, 150 bikes, dozens of tents and assorted outdoor gear had been laid out all over the grounds surrounding the store. We weren’t the only ones who had arrived a day early to look over the merchandise. A dozen prospective customers were milling about, planning their bargain-buying strategy for the next day.

Following the old early-bird-catches-the-worm rule, shoppers began arriving at 5 a.m. Saturday to get first dibs on their merchandise of choice. One woman had laid claim to a canoe, a kayak and two bikes, all by 6 a.m.

We arrived an hour and a half later happy to find the boats we had selected had not yet been scooped up. Sale rules required shoppers to stand by the item to be purchased until the store opened at 9 a.m.

Not five minutes after I pounced on the one-and-only Jackson Zen 65 on sale, a paddler from Spartanburg staked out the larger version of the whitewater boat laying next to mine. For the next 90 minutes we chatted about boats we had owned, rivers we had paddled and the swims we had taken on unforgiving rapids.

It was entertaining watching fellow shoppers slip into unclaimed kayaks for a dry run. They would check the outfitting in the cockpit, pick up the boat to test its weight and carefully inspect the hull for wear and tear. We had gone through the same tire-kicking routine the previous night. Along with Sunrift’s 2012 rental boat fleet, demo models and new boats also were on sale.

At precisely 9 a.m., a small army of sales people poured out of the store ready to facilitate purchases and answer questions. With the doors now open, a steady swarm of shoppers made their way inside to peruse through the racks of clothing and miscellaneous goods on sale.

It wasn’t until we loaded up our newly purchased boats about an hour later that we discovered the festivities taking place around the other side of the building. Children were ascending a rock climbing tower that had been erected on a grassy area near the parking lot. There were vendors selling coffee and baked goods, a folk singer playing the guitar and volunteers dispensing free snow cones.

The Sunrift sale turned out to be everything promised. And I had a new kayak to try out on the Saluda back home in Columbia.