As you may be aware, I recently purchased West Side Boat Shop and West Side Boat Shop kayaks are now available once again.
Doug retired and stopped making boats in 2019 but now the business is back!
It will take a few weeks to sort everything out yet, but I’ve taken physical possession of the boat molds and other assets and will soon have a complete catalog with prices.
X Par Missile
Extra Fast Tourer (EFT)/Sleek
XR5 wildwater kayak
X5 wildwater kayak
On the fringe/Considering retiring
Check out the kayak reviews on Paddling.com:
I’ve also got a few boat bags for the Sleek, Barracuda K-2 and Bullitt K-2. I’ll let these go for $300 each plus shipping.
If you’ve ever considered buying a West Side Boat Shop boat now is the time to reach out to me, pre-order a boat and help save this business. Call me at 804.608.WSBS (9727) or email me at dave-at~davethekayaker~dot-com.
Enjoy the video from the move below.
I loved the Bala Slalom I had. Seems you may still have the mold. Not sure where mine went.
Congrats to all! I saw a posting and was quite interested. Great you guys got together!
Hey Dave, thanks for the quick reply! Being a HUGE believer (understatement) in Doug B. & WSBS I wish you the greatest success (for you & your incredibly supportive and understanding family) and the WSBS boats going forward. I certainly understand the storage aspect of kayaks (I’m about maxed out at between 10-15 boats) and know the molds take up even more space. I’ve never paddled the newer Thunderbolts & EFT (Sleek) but currently own the original TBird & EFT. I love those boats & cringe to see them referred to as obsolete. I may have to visit for a test paddle & possibly freshen up the fleet. Thank you for your insight on boat selection, very informative!
Hi, Mike. Thanks for the question. It deserves a thoughtful and transparent answer.
Although I bought and own all WSBS designs, some molds would not fit on the trailer (not an inexpensive trailer haul, either.) In addition, I carried 6 other molds down on my personal vehicles over 3 trips, so hard choices had to be made about which boats would be commercially viable in the future…especially given the fact I will have to pay a monthly storage fee for all the molds not sitting in the shop for production at Turning Point Boatworks.
Doug sold his farm and everything needed to come out of his barn or be cut up and tossed in a dumpster by the end of August. I did not really want to tell that part of the story, but here we are. Doug and I reached an agreement on July 27 and everything needed to be out of his barn by August 31. And we live 9 hours away from each other. I did the best I could on a very short timeline with personally-invested cash…and a lot of help and support from family and paddling friends, along with plenty of windshield time.
At one point I even drove to New Hampshire on a Saturday to pickup a Wave Ultra Sunday morning and drive back home with it just to know what it is and rationalize whether it is still relevant alongside the Wave Excel, Wave Exceed and Seafarer Sprint.
Acquiring and relocating this business was my life for a solid month.
I’m pretty deep into this before I even build a boat or know if I’ll sell one, but I truly believe it is a worthwhile gamble. I am a West Side Boat Shop enthusiast and felt I needed to step up and take a chance on something I believe in before it disappeared.
Some decisions were relatively easy such tossing the original EFT and T-Bolt hulls in the dumpster because the newer versions render them completely obsolete. The newer hulls are faster yet don’t give up any stability. Old designs like the Baby Otter also made no sense since I doubt anyone will ever pay ~$2K for a child’s kayak with the ever-inflating cost of materials these days. The X5 wildwater boat is rendered completely obsolete by the XR5 and I saved the latter because I still believe it has a place in the market. Some molds/plugs no longer existed and Doug told me it made no sense to take others of them because he hadn’t gotten an order for them in 10-15 years.
Doug also gave me information about how many of each boat he has built over the years so I had to make decisions based on such proprietary information.
There were a few I wish I could have grabbed, but strongly doubted I’d get any orders and it makes no sense to pay monthly rent on a storage unit/barn for boat molds that will never be ordered or built again. That said, I have some molds that I still have my doubts about but paid to have them brought down here anyway because I think people may still order them. Those are listed on my website as “on the fringe.”
So far hard data, my hunches, intuition and research have been reinforced by what people have contacted me and said they’d like to potentially order. I have the molds for all the boats people are telling me they want to order so far. I had a reasonably good feeling about where the market is on these boats and just had to go with my gut.
What will be really difficult is a year or two down the line if some of the boats are not ordered and I have to decide if it is worth paying good money each month to keep those unordered boat molds in storage.
I’m dreading that day.
I’m usually not a gambler in the slightest, but this seemed a reasonably good bet. Still I had to limit my financial exposure.
This whole thing developed quite quickly and I did the best I could putting my family’s cash on the line in the hopes that West Side boats still have a strong following and solid place in the performance kayak market. It would not have happened without the full support of my wife and children. They all said basically the same thing when I broke the news of the possibility, “Dave/dad, you’ve talked about these boats and Doug Bushnell so much over the years it makes total sense for you buy the company.”
Time and the market will decide if it was a good decision.
Hello Dave, I’m confused about why any of these boats need to be retired as long as you acquired the molds. (of course I know next to nothing about owning a new kayak business). I was most surprised the original Thunderbolt was retired. While I never had the opportunity to paddle the newer Thunderbolt models the original is a true classic IMHO and possibly one of my favorite WSBS boats.
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I am very sorry, but hard choices needed to be made and I had to be realistic about what paddlers would actually buy moving forward. In the perfect world I would have saved them all, but I had to measure my carrying costs against potential for future orders. 😦
I’m sorry to read that the RPM Special is being retired. Even though it was designed for a niche market (flatwater downriver) it had more value as a stable training / intro kayak for flatwater racing. It also took up less storage space than longer sprint kayaks and was easier to load / transport. The RPM Special was one of my favorite kayaks.