Jackson River Outfitters, LLC
This is the twelfth in the series of interviews conducted by the Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation about small business entrepreneurship in our area.
The Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation offers entrepreneurial services,
one-on-one business planning assistance, training, mentoring and operational assistance to existing local small businesses and startups.
We are located on the Dabney S. Lancaster Community College campus and can be reached at 540.862.0936 or moc.c1550522555deha@1550522555alram1550522555 or moc.c1550522555deha@1550522555irret1550522555.
Jackson River Outfitters, LLC is located at 4016 Jackson River Road, Covington, VA 24426. They can be reached by calling 540.958.6655.
I recently sat down with Corey and Kaitlyn Peters to get their view on the life of being small business entrepreneurs in the Alleghany Highlands.
What ignited the spark to start your business and become an entrepreneur?
We felt there was a need for a biking business in the Alleghany Highlands. People were asking us if anyone locally was providing this type of service and no one was.
It pretty much seemed like a good idea so we went for it.
The area was lacking bike rental and repairs especially with the Jackson River Scenic Trail being a beautiful recreational opportunity.
The Jackson River Scenic Trail is a great asset to the Alleghany Highlands.
The trail which is 14.3 miles long runs parallel to the Jackson River.
The trail is built on an old railroad bed, tracing the route of what was once the Hot Springs Branch of the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.
There are four parking areas for the trail, Intervale, Petticoat Junction, Smith Bridge and Natural Well Road.
The trail is used for walking, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, running, and cross country skiing in the winter months.
Tell me about your services now and the products you have to offer.
Right now we offer bicycle repair, bike rentals and a shuttle service for the Jackson River Scenic Trail.
In the future we plan to offer kayaks, canoes, and guided river trips, as well as guided fishing excursions.
How does someone get in touch with you if they want to rent a bicycle or need repairs?
Right now the business is run from our house. We can be reached by mobile at 540.958.6655.
With the rentals, we will meet the customers at the trail head of their choice.
We drop the bicycles off and this allows them to have the trip they prefer.
They do not have to come back to one point, if they want to ride from one trail head to another and be shuttled back we will do that.
With the bicycle repairs, I go to customers location, pick up the bike, bring it to my shop, do the repairs and take it back to the customer.
Tell me about your prices for rentals.
There are several options:
- The rentals are $12 an hour
- 4 hours, which we call a half day, is $35 and
- 8 hours, which we call a full day, is $55.
We will book day trips during the week with a 48 hour notice.
You can book the four hour trip whenever you want.
We operate on the weekends all day and during the week after 5pm until dark every day.
How do you plan to build a successful customer base?
We will give our customers the greatest service possible and the greatest experience that we can. It seems to be working for us.
We do not have a lot of repeat customers, but all the customers presently have been very positive about their experience.
We want to be known for our personable/customer relations. We do not just want to send you out on a bike; we want to help make your time on the trail a good experience.
Right now, the people that are renting our bikes have all been from The Homestead and the repairs have been for local residents.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to become a successful entrepreneur?
For me it has been the right personality and learning how to adapt to change. “Change” is so broad that I really do not have a third one.
There are so many things I thought I knew, and I had to realize that I didn’t. I had to relearn and teach myself and just keep moving forward.
How many hours do you work in a day for your business?
It depends, during the week it could be 4 to 5 hours because I work a full time job. On Saturday or Sunday we can go 12 to 14 hours each day.
One week is extremely busy and the next week it isn’t. Right now it is just hit and miss, however we are really enjoying the growth part.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years with your business?
In ten years we plan to have a physical location for the bike shop and rentals.
There are a few ideas we have been kicking around, one of those is the possibility of a campground.
We have thought about tiny houses/cabins but once again it is all about capital.
Moving ahead with our business, we are trying to keep it debt free.
My number one goal is just to let it scale up naturally, which is a hindrance because we don’t go and spend on a bunch of things that could help us make more money.
It is a blessing but at the same time I am not worrying about debt. I do not want to worry about making a bottom line.
We are still trying to figure it all out and that is the biggest reason we have not gone forward in debt like other small businesses.
The building location we are looking to grow the business will not be on the river.
One of the things I like, whether it is feasible or not, is to take something that is old and run down and bring it back to life.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become an entrepreneur?
It is hard and it is going to suck a lot! You better be a happy person. Just do it!
You do not have to go and borrow tons of money to start your business, just come up with an idea and just do it. Give it a try!
If you don’t like it then just toss it away!
I would like to add to the interview that I started out in The Gauntlet program, but was unable to complete it because of the demand of my job which was solely my fault.
The Gauntlet is a great program!
There are a lot of things I would like to see happen but the only person who is going to make those things happen is me.
My perspective on what I want is to improve myself and I am the only person who can do that. I have to be willing to put forth the effort.
We are not only doing our business for us we are doing it for the Alleghany Highlands.
We would like to help the tourism initiative grow here in the Alleghany Highlands. We have two world class resorts right next door in our neighboring counties and they use our amenities and we must capitalize on that.
There are no local customers using our bike rental services at this time.
There is a mindset here where you should work only in industry.
There are a lot of small business options in the Alleghany Highlands and we need to utilize those opportunities as entrepreneurs.
The Alleghany Highlands Economic Development Corporation is doing a great job of getting people motivated and inspired to do something; to create a business, to create an environment that is healthy as well as expanding and diversifying businesses. www.ahedc.com
The Alleghany Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Tourism is doing a great job with the marketing of the area with all the outdoor recreational activities. www.ahchamber.com
I think the vision is here; there is always a group of people working to make things happen and good things will happen.