The Shop, Part Six In The Series

There’s a reason why specialty paddling shops thrive, where great customer service, product knowledge, up to date river conditions and special events make them a valued resource in the community. When you step into a great shop, you’ll find staff that have experience using the products they sell, continually have in stock, and likely used on the water recently. Makes sense, right? We believe that specialty retail shops are integral to our success, and yours on the water.

Meet Mike Donovan, Owner & Founder of Sunshine Sports in Billings, MT. Mike’s rafting career started many years ago, at 10 years old when he and two brothers won a raft in a local contest, and the rest is history.


“I have rowed countless days with all the best selling brands of oars and at this point in the journey, I now row with the Sawyer SquareTop Dyno-X Shoal Cut oars. “I believe the innovation and performance of a Sawyer oar cannot be matched by any of the competing oar brands. Sawyer offers the greatest depth of oar models each offering different performance characteristics.” So we asked Mike how Sunshine staff makes the customer experience stand out.

“We use an interactive demonstration comparing the varying flex and whip of different shafts and blades really drives home the differences, and helps a customer choose between the many models.” At Sawyer, we call this “the unduplicated feel and progressive flex that only a tapered wood shaft delivers.” The added strength of a carbon fiber braid wrap and the over-sized “SquareTop” from the handle to the rope wrap provides a counter balanced feel without compromising flotation. Yes, a counter balanced oar that floats… flat on the water!

Mike stressed that his staff are pro’s at explaining the benefit of the comfort and forgiveness of rowing an oar with more uniform flex, and how a more balanced oar can reduce the fatigue of lifting an unbalanced oar 1000’s of times per day. That’s music to his customer’s ears, and we agree. Until next time, Eddy Out!