Sister Lakes community welcomes new kayak business

SISTER LAKES — A new, local business is offering customers a way to experience the splendor of the Sister Lakes, one paddle at a time.

Sister Lakes Kayak, a kayak rental business owned and operated by Derek and McKenzie Collins, opened its oars to the community at the beginning of the month. The business allows customers to rent out kayaks for use in the Sister Lakes as well as the Twin Lakes.

Dowagiac natives, the Collinses moved to the Sister Lakes area a few years ago. After observing tourist and recreational trends, the couple decided to pursue starting a business of their own.

“After looking into it, we landed on kayaking, something we both had done before,” McKenzie said. “When the pandemic happened and people were spending more time outside, we decided that it was now or never.”

Sister Lakes Kayak has both a website, sisterlakeskayak.com, and Facebook page customers can access to rent out kayaks, with rates starting at $20 per hour for up to three hours. The couple will then deliver the kayaks to the customer’s desired location on the day of the rental, whether it be a local lake house, rental or boat launch.

The Collinses do not yet have a physical storefront but their mobility and location flexibility has been a boon for business.

“I think that’s what sets us apart right now,” McKenzie said. “We have so many lakes here, and we’re mobile. We can launch from any public access. You could kayak with us one day on one lake and again with us on another lake and have a different experience each time.”

The business opened to much fanfare. According to McKenzie, the business’ first Facebook post garnered more than 10,000 views. The business is offering customers 20 percent off if rentals are booked before July 1.

“We’ve received lots of support from locals,” she said. “A lot of local people have kayaks, so we weren’t expecting this much support from locals. We were thinking more of the interest would be from people out of town. We’ve had so much support, it’s been crazy. People are asking for kayak lessons and if we have kayaks for sale. We’re both surprised and thankful for the support we’ve received from the community.”

The first month of business has been a success for the business, and both Derek and McKenzie look forward to the future.

“We’d like to have a physical storefront someday,” McKenzie said. “We would like to provide kayak lessons, have kayaks for sale and sell souvenirs that people would like to take home with them while on vacation. We’re excited to see where this takes us.”

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