Knowing the ebb and flow of a business can take years, even more so when Mother Nature is at the helm.
But after 28 years of experiencing the best outdoor wet-and-wild spots around, Rivers Odyssey West Adventures has mastered the art of harnessing nature’s adventures and letting anyone in on the ride.
The Coeur d’Alene-based company recently expanded into the downtown market, opening the ROW Adventure Center on Sherman Avenue.
“We’ve been thinking about this for a long time,” Peter Grubb, co-owner and founder of the business along with wife Betsy Bowen, said about extending away from their Garden Street headquarters. “The main reason was two-fold: Even though we’ve been in business for 28 years, there are still a lot of local people who don’t know we exist. And (the second reason is) to tap into the thousands of tourists” who flood the town in the summer. “We want to be the ‘fun’ place in downtown Coeur d’Alene.”
Under the inflatable raft suspended above its entry, the Adventure Center’s roughly 600-square-foot shop offers everything outdoors, from the outdoor apparel that lines the walls to local wildlife and wilderness authors’ works and children’s books stocked in the shelves and a variety of other adventure materials available for perusal. To help with the new retail side of things, Grubb and company teamed up with local residents and outdoor enthusiasts Anna Osborne and Mark Beattie, former owner of Vertical Earth.
“Peter thought it would be an ideal situation for us to help,” Osborne said. Since ROW hadn’t really had a retail store before, Osborne and Beattie helped get the inventory and store structure in place. “We did a lot of research on what the (Sherman) strip needed,” Osborne said. So far, “it’s been probably the easiest integration into a company that I’ve ever had,” Beattie added.
However, the new store’s main focus is on what’s available just a few hours’ drive from the Lake City: the rivers and streams that are ripe with winter runoff and home to a variety of spectacular wildlife, since ROW also offers fly fishing outings.
“Particularly what we are hyping are our one day trips, that are about a two-hour drive from Coeur d’Alene,” Grubb said, adding that 90 percent of their business stems from those day-long white-water adventures to places such as the Clark Fork River by the Alberton Gorge in Montana and the thrilling Lochsa River ride in the Bitterroot Mountains, where ROW recently built the River Dance Lodge for overnight trips. “They’re all great trips that we’ve developed,” he said. “Each trip is unique and exciting in their own way.”
In the future, the Adventure Center hopes to add even more local expeditions. “That’s why we call it the Adventure Center, to promote the local trips,” Osborne explained.
Coeur d’Alene resident Charles “Bud” Ford doesn’t need any more convincing. A rafting junkie for the better part of a decade who’s been down renowned locales such as the Rio Grande, the Grand Canyon and Jackson Hole among others, Ford’s been a loyal ROW adventurer for more than eight years.
“They got me hooked,” he said, referring to his favorite trip down the Lochsa. “(ROW) has excellent guides, good lunch on the river… In my estimation the Lochsa is the finest one-day white water rafting trip in the world,” Ford proclaimed.
That’s what it’s all about for the team at the Adventure Center: exposing the public to the many spectacular things to see and experience around North Idaho. “It’s about giving people more of a chance to have a wilderness experience,” Beattie said. “There’s nothing like the smile on someone’s face when you help them with something adventuresome.”