Thirty-eight years ago, my wife Mary Lynn and I
realized a great opportunity to retail canoes and kayaks in western New York.
Back then, there were only two locations in Rochester that carried any type of
canoe or kayak. One location, Towner's was on University Ave. The only other
location was a one-car garage on Ridge Road West (James Leisch), that carried a
few Old Towns. In Buffalo, there was only a small operation out of a gas
station in East Aurora (International Marine - Jeff Rivett). At none of these
stores were you able to try the boat before you bought it, since there was no
water on the premises. We thought it would be nice to be able to offer this
service to our customers.
But wait... I'm getting ahead of how we actually came to have a,
"Try-Before-You-Buy," Loch Finley. At that point of our lives we were cash crop
farming and I was employed full-time by Gannett Rochester Newspapers as an account
executive in display advertising. A huge strawberry patch was located where Loch
Finley is today. But it was always so wet there that we could not pick the strawberries
properly. There was drainage problem. So, I contacted the County Road Commissioner here
in Orleans County to dig out the silt filled ditches adjoining the strawberries.
He was too busy and might get around to it, sometime. I decided right then and
there that there must be ample water sources under this land - so, I had a pond
dug for my try-before-you-buy! I took a disadvantage and turned it into an advantage. I have no idea what
would have transpired if the county would have cleaned out the roadside ditch. For
the first six years I imported a fiberglass line of canoes from Toronto. It was
very successful. The lines carried grew very quickly! We started with three canoes
on a rack on our front lawn. Sold those and bought six - sold those and bought
twelve and so on...
With the help of
my oldest son Aaron and my youngest son Todd (Who along with his wife Anita now
run the store), Oak Orchard Canoe and Kayak Experts has grown into one of the
most recognized, small boat outlets in the U.S.A. and Canada. We are among six
of the oldest Perception dealers in the United States, and in the top twelve
with Wenonah canoe! Now it seems that the discount stores and mall stores have
discovered canoeing and kayaking and are now offering bits and pieces of
different manufacturer's lines. They are doing so like they did twenty years
ago, no try before you buy, no service, no repair, no trades, and with little
or no knowledge of the sport or their product. Typically at these stores the
sale ends right at the cash register. There is no one to help you tie your boat
down safely or give you advice on how to use what you just bought! All they
know is the price and how to ring it up at the cash register! These stores have
NO warranty what-so-ever. Any warranties are with the manufacturer who could be
800 to 3000 miles away! If you need warranty service or repairs, these stores
have no repair department. Typically, box store shoppers are being under served
by choosing box store racks and box store kayak side carry J cradles. Both can make
loading/unloading laborious and unsafe. Talk to us!
Oak Orchard Canoe has been repairing and honoring
most manufacturer's warranties on the spot. We at Oak Orchard Canoe think it's a
bad idea to pick the only boat that is hanging from a mall store's ceiling.
Instead we recommend that you pick a boat that's right for you and your needs.
Let us put you in a boat on the water. Our experienced staff gives personable
and professional service to each and every customer and our large selection of
boats (over 1400 and dozens of brands) allows us to match you with the right
Did you know that Orleans County has a very small population?
A little over 45,000. Waterport is located between Rochester and Niagara Falls (North of Batavia)
and is world famous for Salmon and Lake Trout fishing.
Did you know that Orleans county has one of the finest creeks in a 150
mile radius? Oak Orchard Creek has a good water flow all year long. Clean,
sparkling waters for boating, swimming, fishing or picnicking. We offer rentals
for both large and small groups and we also give lessons and instructional
We thank you for taking this time to shop us and for driving such a long
way today. I think you will all agree that Oak Orchard's knowledge and
experience in the business is among the finest and will work hard to earn your
trust. We value your patronage. Please enjoy yourself and thank you for coming.
Sincerely, Bill and Mary Lynn Finley