After Rutabaga Paddlesports’ lease at 220 W. Broadway in Monona came up for renewal in March 2020, employee-turned-owner Darren Bush set his sights on a new and central location that was, fittingly, near a water source. This June, the nationally recognized kayak, canoe and stand-up paddle retailer began construction at its new location on Madison’s south side.
The new shop, expected to open in late fall, is located on Rimrock Road in the Novation Campus. Situated just off Lake George, the store will feature a custom pier, offering customers the unique opportunity to try gear before purchasing. Bush wanted to create an atmosphere that brought the outside in, hence the floor-to-ceiling glass.
Since 1976, Rutabaga has grown to become the largest paddlesport shop in the U.S. Bush and his colleagues carefully select each product on the shelves to provide customers with the finest gear and products. “As a small, family-owned and operated business, we have the opportunity to make choices that larger box stores can’t,” Bush said in a news release last week. “We like being an independent, single-store specialty retailer because if you call us, you don’t get a call center, you get one of us.”
In the spirit of sustainability, Rutabaga will feature high-efficiency energy systems and a parking lot equipped with electric vehicle charging stations. The entire building will be carbon neutral and rely exclusively on solar power.
The company also offers a paddling school. Each year, more than 1,000 enthusiasts come to Rutabaga Outdoor Adventures to learn paddling skills through its various programs and courses. The school also hosts its annual Canoecopia, the largest paddlesports consumer event in the world.
Rutabaga plans to hold a soft opening this fall and a larger community celebration in the spring. Until then, its Broadway-street location will remain open.
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