By Chris Laughlin
co-owner - Thorfinn Expeditions
Lincolnville Beach embodies and epitomizes many of the traits that make the Midcoast so appealing to the people who live here, and to those who travel from around the world to visit. Beautiful scenery, small town independence and charm, interesting people; and set just far enough off the beaten path to provide a little “destination appeal.”
When I first started talking to Thor Emory about coming on as his new business partner at Thorfinn Expeditions, one of our first priorities was sorting out where we would establish Thorfinn for the 2012 season. Discussion quickly focused on the vacant building next to Maine Artisans on Lincolnville Beach. The building was Thorfinn’s home in 2010 (Thor moved the business out in 2011 for a little “restructuring”), it still had all of Thor’s infrastructure setup inside, we’re both Lincolnville residents – and it didn’t hurt that Penobscot Bay would be just steps away. We agreed that it was a great spot to set up the headquarters for Thorfinn’s outdoor adventure programs and retail showroom. As Thor says, “We’re proud to be a little rough around the edges and ‘outposty’.”
I’ve worked in the paddlesport industry for over ten years; somehow my passion for paddling and spending time on the water morphed into a “career.” I started in retail sales and eventually moved on to the manufacturing side of the business, working in customer service, as a sales representative and ultimately in marketing and promotions. The greatest reward of this path has been the opportunity to travel around the country, meeting and working with people that continue to impress and inspire me. I also developed a personal perspective on what types of businesses were advancing paddling as a sport, which ones were succeeding, and why.
Living in Midcoast Maine, it didn’t take long to notice what Thorfinn Expeditions was up to; I saw a business committed to advancing the sports and lifestyle it represented. It was also clear that Thor and I shared a common vision: our region has the potential to be a Mecca for outdoor athletes and adventurers. We’re surrounded by opportunity – whether it is the world class paddling and sailing on Penobscot Bay, or the climbing and hiking in the mountains of Camden Hills State Park. Thor had positioned his business to get people past the typical harbor tours, and instead fully immerse Thorfinn clientele into our coast, lakes and mountains – outdoor education, physical activity and personal involvement were paramount.
By summer 2011, Thorfinn had incorporated one of the fastest growing sports in the world into its adventure programs and sales: Stand Up Paddleboarding. Stand up paddling has taken the paddlesports industry by storm; it is an incredibly fun way to spend time on the water – whether you like the surf zone, the tranquility of Lake Megunticook or the dynamic open water of Penobscot Bay. It is also an excellent workout, and while leisurely sunset paddles are a must, fitness paddling and racing are propelling a big portion of SUP’s growth.
Which brings us back to Lincolnville Beach, literally. The shop on Atlantic Highway will serve as our basecamp for the Thorfinn outdoor education and adventure school, and the showroom has expanded into a full paddlesports specialty retail center: sales, rentals, tours and instruction. The Bay is outside our front door, Lake Megunticook is five minutes up the road and the hills are all around us. To say we’re excited is an understatement!
The gear we’ll sell in our retail shop is a reflection of our general philosophy as an outdoor adventure business: performance oriented, soulful and inspiring. We’ve put in a lot of miles on Penobscot Bay and the surrounding freshwater lakes; paddle boarding and kayaking our coastline and inland waterways provides a unique appreciation for the Midcoast’s rugged beauty.
In addition to strengthening our connection to the area, our time spent on the water refined our choices in equipment. The SUP and kayak brands we represent in our store are ones that we use ourselves, and they are designed/built by some of the most accomplished paddlers in the industry – whether you are looking for something entry level or elite.
And so my journey through the world of paddlesports continues. In many respects I feel like this opportunity is what I’ve been working towards over the last decade; I hope I can use my experiences and what I’ve learned to help Thorfinn continue its advancement of outdoor recreation and adventure on the Midcoast. One thing’s certain, from our shop on Lincolnville Beach; I know I’ll enjoy the view!
Get out. Go wild!
Co-owner – Thorfinn Expeditions