About Us and Our History
Here at Bay Shore Outfitters we believe that Door County, and the environment as a whole, is something to preserve and appreciate through respectful recreation and education. We support foundations and organizations such as the Door County Land Trust, the Ridges Sanctuary, the Newport Wilderness Society, among others, and partner with them on expeditions and events. We also believe that outstanding customer service is at the core of our company. With more than 30 years of serving the Door County community in outdoor activities, our goal is to give every customer the best possible service and to provide outstanding products, instruction, and services to those wanting to experience the beautiful Door County outdoors.
Meet The Owners
The company originated as Sailboat Rides in 1980 between owners Peter and David, who were operating sailing charters aboard privately owned vessels in Fish Creek harbor. In 1981, the partners purchased their first company-owned vessel, a 27′ Stiletto catamaran named “Ace.” This cat was added to the existing day-sailing charter activities. At this time, Sailboat Rides was booking its activities through a bait shop shore facility in Fish Creek, formerly “Hook, Line and Sinker” but what would soon become known as “The Boat House.”
Rick Wylie joined the partnership in 1983. The three partners purchased another Stiletto catamaran, “Deuce,” and opened a second Sailboat Rides location at South Shore Pier in Ephraim, site of the present Ephraim Kayak Center. During the following winter’s off-season, the partners operated one Stiletto in Ft. Myers Beach, FL.
The Boat House began in 1985 when the partners took sole possession of the bait shop. While continuing the Sailboat Rides from both Fish Creek and Ephraim, the partners expanded existing rental activities for mopeds and paddleboats. Over the course of nine rental seasons, “mopeds” became a synonymous with The Boat House and became an expected part of our summer landscape. Although a successful part of the company’s business, the decision to sell the moped rental business was made and a Fish Creek buyer, Edge of Park, Inc., was founded in 1994.
Incorporation followed in 1986, and the “Sailboat Rides” partnership became “SBR of Door County, Inc.” Rental activities at the Boat House lengthened the active business season from three months of sailing to a full six months between May and October annually. The three partners continued to do the charter sailing aboard the Stilettos while operating The Boat House rental location, now with the help of full and part-time employees. Beginning in the mid-80’s, each partner involved himself with a variety of yacht delivery and charter activities.
The development of Ephraim Kayak Center began in 1988 when the corporation assumed control of the sailboat rental concession at South Shore Pier. By 1994, the expansion that occurred at Ephraim included windsurfing rentals, windsurfing lessons, as well as sailing rentals and lessons.
Nicolet Beach Rentals opened in 1989 when the corporation bid for, and was awarded, a state of Wisconsin concession contract for operating the boat rental business in Peninsula State Park. The concession to rent bikes had, up to 1989, been under the control of the park store. These two rental activities were consolidated under the direction of SBR, Inc. Nicolet Beach opened with three full-time employees who served as rental assistants, and windsurfing and sailing instructors.
In 1994, the corporate entity of “Nicolet Beach Concessions” was awarded an assignment agreement for operating the Nicolet Bay Camp Store and Nicolet Bay Snack Bar which had been under the management of the Peninsula Golf Association.
A full time sailing charter captain was hired in 1990. Each of the three owners were now concentrating on the management and operations activities at each of the five business sites-company growth unfortunately required they remove themselves from the activity that originally drew them to the county and their business…sailing.
In 1999, the partners decided to take on a new business venture and purchased “Mac’s Sport Shop” on Highway 42 in Sister Bay. Their vision was to open a retail and rental location for all outdoor activities in Door County and specialize in the growing popularity of kayaking. They named it Bay Shore Outdoor and it became the first entity of the business that operated year-round specializing in kayaks, outdoor specialty apparel and footwear, kayak tours and rentals in the summer, and focusing on cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and apparel in the winter.
In 2004 Mark Schuster joined the partners at Bay Shore Outfitters. Mark brought his extensive background of working in the department store and specialty retail markets to the organization. In 2010 Bay Shore Outfitters expanded into the Sturgeon Bay market, opening its second retail store location at 27 South Madison Ave. They now could offer the same quality products and services to a larger market. 2013 saw changes in the organization with Peter retiring and the splitting of the company. Rick, Dave and Mark retained ownership of the retail stores and Ephraim Kayak Center while Nicolet Beach Rentals was dissolved from the partnership. In 2016, Bay Shore Outfitters opened a second waterfront rental location at Sister Bay Beach that offers hourly watercraft rentals and classes. 2017 is bringing more changes to the company as the Sturgeon Bay store has outgrown its location and has expanded to its new location at 59 North Madison Ave. where the store continues to showcase the quality products and exceptional customer service that has made this company such a lasting fixture in Door County for so many years.