His mission is to provide guided kayak tours on the Schuylkill

ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jason Mifflin , owner of Hidden River Outfitters, offers everything from basic kayak tours to movie-night tours - which include a journey and an outdoor flick.
ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Jason Mifflin , owner of Hidden River Outfitters, offers everything from basic kayak tours to movie-night tours - which include a journey and an outdoor flick.
Posted: August 16, 2013

J ASON MIFFLIN, 38, of Roxborough, owns Hidden River Outfitters, which provides guided kayak tours on the Schuylkill on Thursday evenings and weekends from May to October. Prices range from $40 per person for basic kayak tours to $75 for advanced tours. The company also offers paddleboard lessons at Penn's Landing for $50.

Q: How did you get involved with Hidden River Outfitters?

A: Several years ago I met a guy who was interested in starting kayak tours and told him I'd love to help. He called me and we started doing tours together for a couple of years and then I bought him out of the business in 2010.

Q: Where'd you get the money?

A: I put a little down but paid him off after two seasons, [the sales price] was around $18,000.

Q: How's the business work?

A: We have three docks - at Manayunk Brewery & Restaurant, Walnut Street at Schuylkill Banks and Penn's Landing Marina. We offer basic kayak tours, advanced kayak tours to Bartram's Garden and a movie-night kayak tour that concludes with an outdoor movie on the lawn at Schuylkill Banks. Manayunk tours include brunch and a Sunday jazz brunch.

Q: What about the guides?

A: We have two guides for every trip. They're all CPR-certified and experienced kayakers.

Q: How many tours per season?

A: I would say 40, with half from Manayunk and half from Walnut. I can arrange group specialty tours, such as a corporate package where people paddle, tour [Manayunk] brewery, sample a flight of beers, have lunch and make a day of it.

Q: Typically, how many people are on a group tour?

A: Generally, it's between 12 and 15. I average about 500 people through the kayak tours per season and 3,000 people down at Penn's Landing.

Q: Who are your customers?

A: Kids over age 8 to seniors. At least half the people who take tours have never paddled before. The majority are probably in the 20-to-40 age range.

Q: What's the sales pitch?

A: I want to bring more awareness about the Schuylkill. Most people don't know how much nature and wildlife is out here. On a tour we'll see turtles, wading birds, blue and green herons, egrets and fish jumping.

Q: How big a business is this?

A: I think we did around $35,000 in revenue last year.

Q: How many employees?

A: At Penn's Landing, we have four people who work every Saturday and Sunday. I have five guides that help me with kayak tours. My wife also helps on tours but mostly handles the books.

Q: Your biggest challenge?

A: Weather is one. Another is lack of marketing. I haven't focused more on it because this is a side business and I have a full-time job [coordinating volunteers] with the city's Department of Recreation.


On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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