OLD LYME, Conn. — It’s become a niche business at Black Hall Outfitters; customizing kayaks so people can paddle in style.
Black Hall has locations in both Old Lyme and Westbrook, specializing in all things aquatic. It was during the COVID-19 crisis that they found their business of customizing kayaks became much more sought after.
Joe Harasyko, a self-described “Kayak Hot-Rodder” provides the steady hand behind the intricate builds.
The Kayaks are purchased as a separate unit – it’s what Harasyko does with aftermarket add-ons that have become so popular.
"We start with lights and electronics, anchor trolleys, rod holders, you name it," he said. “I always joke that I will put a pizza oven or a kegerator on the kayak if you want me to.”
Gene Chmiel, the owner of Black Hall Outfitters said he has been sending Kayaks to customers across the country – especially lately.
“These are not your dad’s kayaks anymore,” said Chmiel, “we’ve had builds where the electronics we put on the boat (kayak) are worth more than the boat itself.”
With a fish finder, GPS, and small motor on board, Harasyko was putting the finishing touches on a custom kayak bound for a customer in Texas.
"The boats are evolving, the sport is evolving… and we’re just having more fun,” he said.
Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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