The River Dog Paddle Co. was started by Mike and Connie Sams. The business is an outpost rental shop that provides paddle boarding lessons and gear for the outdoors enthusiast. The name of their shop evolved from their passion for paddle boarding and the stray dog the couple rescued in distress along the Coosa River. They also provide Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) sales, rentals, demos, lessons, yoga, fitness classes and the opportunity to explore the areas waterways.
Connie Sams explains that River Dog Paddle Co. came to be as a result of opportunities that just presented themselves to her and her husband, Mike.
She notes, “We were both passionate about our city, the outdoors, and Stand up Paddle Boarding. Instead of hesitating or questioning when circumstances led us down this path, we leapt with ‘hopes’ our net would appear, which it did. I am a Human Resources (HR) Professional, and had worked in HR over 15 years at the time I opened the shop. My husband had worked in hospitality over 20 years, and he runs the day-to-day operations of the company, while I continue to work full-time in HR.”
The Sams didn’t have an elaborate, long-standing plan to open River Dog and needed funding to get things rolling. Thanks to ACE, Mike and Connie Sams were able to secure the technical assistance and financing necessary to successfully and sustainably open up their store in Rome, Georgia.
Prior to providing the loan, ACE worked with the Sams to establish expenses and budgets, helping them understand what would be needed in terms of capital and sales to get their business up and running, as well as earning enough revenue to cover their expenses. As a part of that process, Connie also prepared a business plan to transform her concept into reality.
Their timeframe, from concept to opening, was May of 2014 to August of 2014. They began by running a small-scale paddle board rental out of their converted motorcycle trailer and eventually opened the doors of their retail shop on November 28, 2014. The SBA Microloan funds were used for initial inventory, remodeling, and fixtures in the store.
In December 2015, the Sams expanded their business and opened a beer garden, called River Dog Outpost. The Outpost is located just across the street from their shop.