Mike McKibbin

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January 30, 2013
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Rafting, fly fishing store owner thinks he has a sure thing

Mark Proctor is a confident guy. Part of the reason he's so sure his recent career change will be positive is the old axiom for every business success story.

Location, location, location.

Mark and Kathleen Proctor own and operate "On The River Supply," 1427 Airport Road in Rifle. The store is in the shopping plaza that formerly housed Stereo Unlimited, until that business shut its doors late last year.

Mark Proctor thinks the location, southeast of Walmart, will help bring in business. And the availability of outdoor recreation on rivers far and wide is another reason Proctor is so optimistic his store will succeed.

"We have the Yampa, the Green, the Roaring Fork, the Colorado, the Gunnison, and rivers in Utah, so this is right in the middle," Proctor said of Rifle. "I really don't think this will be a very big gamble. I'm just really confident we've got something people will want. Our focus will be anything needed to get on the river."

The business specializes in rafts for white water rafting and fishing, along with rowing and fishing frames for the rafts. The business was recently chosen as one of only six in the country as authorized sellers of Hyside inflatable rafts. Accessories will include personal flotation devices, helmets, hats, oars, paddles, dry bags, and much more river gear and accessories from the industries' top manufacturers.

Proctor said he's also excited to offer a great selection of premium hand-tied flies, terminal tackle and accessories for fly fishing. He noted the store is the only one between Glenwood Springs and Grand Junction to offer a good selection of high quality fly fishing equipment. The one thing the business does not offer is a guide service, Proctor said.

Last year, Proctor operated the store as a "small-scale experiment," called "Feisty Fins Outfitters," in the Storm King Mechanical building, 2970 Airport Road, "and in a terrible water year. And we did quite well."

Proctor said he developed a customer base last year from all over the country, as well as in the local area. Proctor was also involved in a long distance relationship with Kathleen, whom he married in May. She then joined him in Rifle.

"We decided to really give this a try, so we started looking at places in New Castle," Proctor said. "But when we found out the Stereo Unlimited space was available, the visibility was perfect. So we thought 'let's do this and really kick it up."

The couple is currently renting space in the plaza but hope to purchase the building in the near future.

For the time being, Proctor and his wife will be the only employees.

"We hope to be able to maybe hire a small staff or a managing partner once we get it going," he added. "We don't want to be married to the business over the long haul."

Proctor said he did not receive - or even ask for - any economic incentives from the city to open the business.

"I wanted to offer something to people looking to raft or fish that they couldn't get across the street at Walmart," Proctor said. "Something very, very unique. Even in Glenwood Springs, I don't think you can buy a real good rafting frame like we have to offer."

Proctor previously worked as a contractor for 25 years, until the construction industry suffered in the recent recession. He moved to Rifle from Glenwood Springs 13 years ago.

"I get tired of hearing all the doom and gloom about the economy," Proctor said. "We live in one of the best areas in the world for rafting and fishing, so we didn't want to be among those who aren't willing to take a risk. I think we'll be a good economic boost to the Rifle economy, too."

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The Post Independent Updated Jan 30, 2013 05:08PM Published Jan 30, 2013 05:06PM Copyright 2013 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.