Recently opened Knee Deep Living offers paddleboard rentals, lessons and classes to residents of Sister Lakes. Owners Darren and Tori Petterson, of Grand Haven, have been teaching paddleboarding for just over a year. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
Recently opened Knee Deep Living offers paddleboard rentals, lessons and classes to residents of Sister Lakes. Owners Darren and Tori Petterson, of Grand Haven, have been teaching paddleboarding for just over a year. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

New Sister Lakes shop offers paddleboard rentals, lessons

Published 8:57am Friday, June 13, 2014

Four years ago, Darren and Tori Petterson packed up their things, bidding adieu to the streets of Chicago and saying hello to the sands of Grand Haven.

The Pettersons had lived for 12 years in the Windy City. After Darren left his job with Chicago Board of Trade to start his own trading company, the frequent Sister Lakes vacationers decided to take advantage the newfound freedom his new operation afforded them.

“We wanted to get out of the city and out on the water somewhere,” Darren said.

While Darren originally planned on spending his free time learning to surf, in less than a week of living in their Grand Haven home the couple discovered another water-based activity they fell in love with: stand up paddleboarding.

“Four years later, we’ve opened our own paddleboard shop. That tells you how fun it is,” Darren said.

Late last month, the Pettersons officially opened Knee Deep Living in Sister Lakes, offering paddleboard rentals, lessons and classes to residents of the resort community. This week, the business expanded their hours for the season, open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on everyday but Tuesday.

The name “Knee Deep Living” refers to more than just the obvious aquatic arena the sport takes place in. It’s a personal callback for Darren, who recalled making the decision to turn his newfound hobby into a profession while preparing for a paddleboard race in Traverse City, he said.

“All these things came together for me while I was knee deep in the water,” he said.

Last April, both Darren and Tori traveled to North Carolina to receive instructor training, not only for stand up paddleboarding, but also for PaddleFit and PaddleYoga, which combines boarding with traditional fitness exercises and stretching techniques.

Last summer, the couple started Knee Deep Living as a mobile operation, running the business out of a van. Later in the year, they decided to take out a lease the former Dollar Store storefront near Sister Lakes Road, due to demand from the area’s customers, Petterson said.

He and his wife spent the entire winter transforming the space, repainting the walls, laying down new flooring and bringing in new furniture and décor to give the shop a west-coast surf shop vibe.

While the owners live in Grand Haven, they have owned a cottage near Big Crooked Lake for years, and continue to vacation there along with their two children.

“We just love how laid back the area is,” he said. “You can just walk out your door and you’re on the lake.”

Inland bodies of water like the ones that dot the Sister Lakes region make the perfect spot for paddleboarding, because of their calm waters, Petterson said. Being a relatively new sport to the area, paddleboarding provides residents with a fresh lake-based activity outside of boating and fishing, the business owner added.

“Once a they get out on the water and try it, they’ll be hooked,” Petterson said.

One of the appeals of the activity is the ease with which newcomers can pick it, Petterson said. With some basic instruction, customers can expect to be up and boarding within 15 minutes.

“It’s a whole lifestyle. Anybody can do it, anytime, at any place,” he said. “You can go anywhere in the world, get out, exercise and have fun.”

Knee Deep Living will be open six days a week through Labor Day. The storefront is located at 67796 M-152. For appointments or more information, call 616-502-6932.

By using this website’s user-contribution features, including comments, photo galleries, or any other feature, you agree to abide by the terms of use. Please read this agreement in its entirety because it contains useful information that will help you better understand the rules and general "good manners" that are expected when contributing content to this website.

Editor's Picks