BEA AHBECK/NEWS-SENTINEL Linda Cook, co-owner of the new Lodi Paddle Sports Center, which takes over the space of Headwaters Kayak, which closed at the end of September. Cook will run the store in partnership with Jim Schneider.

Dan Arbuckle, the owner of Headwaters Kayak Shop, has decided to chart a somewhat different path for himself and his family going forward. He has owned the community based kayak shop for ten years, in addition to running the Headwaters boathouse, selling and distributing kayaks to dealers up and down the  Western United States, and making YouTube videos about kayaking. 

Last month, he announced in a Facebook video that he would permanently close the shop at the end of September. His business, like so many others, was hit hard by the coronavirus.

After initially closing the doors at the beginning of the pandemic, Headwaters reopened and business was booming as people that had been holed up in their homes looked for outdoor escapes.

By mid-summer, however, inventory was pretty much depleted, Arbuckle explained in the video.

“I was faced with an ultimatum: do I want to keep it going, train new people, or am I ready to turn the page and open up the door for other people and other opportunities?” he asked himself. After much consideration, he chose the latter.

In stepped Linda Cook and Jim Schneider. Cook has worked as the inventory manager at the shop for four years, and Schneider is the president of the Lodi Paddle Club on Meetup. Together they formed a partnership, bought the shop and what inventory was left, and took over the lease at the business located on Cluff Avenue in the industrial area east of Highway 99.

“We know there is a need for a paddling center in Lodi, the community is so huge, and we all rely on each other for everything,” Cook said. “We’re a tight-knit community, and to lose that support, that would have a large impact.”

The new owners will keep the business closed during the winter months and do some remodeling, and are looking to open up the store in the same location under its new name, Lodi Paddle Sports Center, next spring.

“I am very excited, and a lot of people in the community have been contacting us, willing to help, so we’ve got good support,” Cook said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but we’re excited.”

In addition to previously working as the inventory manager at the store, Cook also leads paddles and tours, as well as gives private paddling classes.

Cook said they’ll be expanding on what Headwaters has always done — with the store being a community hub for paddlers.

Arbuckle was very happy to hear Cook and Schneider wanted to take over the helm of the store.

“It was important for them that Lodi has a shop,” he said.

With the new partners stepping into the existing storefront and taking over the inventory and lease, Arbuckle hopes it gives them a really good groundwork and foundation to be successful continuing to serve the local paddling community.

In the Facebook video, Arbuckle explained what Headwaters had meant for him in the last decade.

“Headwaters is my baby, it’s all been a huge part of my identity, so it’s hard to say goodbye. But I am not going anywhere, just not working in retail anymore.”

Arbuckle will continue to run the boathouse and also distribute kayaks while posting YouTube videos.

“We’re really looking forward to using the YouTube platform is a way to kind of grow the whole paddle sports awareness and hopefully grow small, independent retailers as well,” he said.

But after 10 years of being open five days a week, he is looking forward to some time off.

“I am looking forward to taking a much needed break and vacation. I am definitely looking forward to a little bit of downtime, going on some kayaking adventures and making videos,” he said.

And come spring, the new paddle center will open up for people eager to get out on the water.

“The community will know where to find us,” Cook said.

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