With the advent of big box stores taking over local economies and the age of Amazon where robots pull orders and ship goods across America with free shipping to your doorstep, It’s rare to find locally owned and operated businesses that have survived the fallout.
As the director of a community development organization, my business is to build our community by investing in people. We work to give hope to our students by teaching them how to be successful by walking with their parents through the ups and downs of the most challenging years of raising children. We are putting our money where our heart is and finding that Love does Change things.
Non-profits get that concept, but it is so refreshing to see when businesses realize that marrying their heart and their business model is a “win-win” for the community and also for the bottom line. Pack & Paddle has been a Lafayette fixture for the last 41 years. It has weathered crashes in the oil and gas markets and even the constant growth of Lafayette in the opposite end of town. What has made this business stand the test of time isn’t only their amazing products and excellent customer service, but it is also the outdoor outfitter’s commitment to the community it calls home.
Pack & Paddle puts on regular clinics to promote the outdoor lifestyle here in Acadiana. Whether it’s paddling, hiking, kayak fishing, or even outdoor photography, they want to develop the people that are using their products by investing in their lives.
So what’s the connection between Hope for Opelousas and Pack & Paddle?
When we began HFO we knew the impact that outdoor experiences could have on a young person. We wanted to expose at-risk youth to the great outdoors and let that combination do it’s magic.
Pack & Paddle shared the vision of exposing youth to the outdoors with the goal of character/personal development, so they jumped right in with us. What started 8 years ago with a few tarps and sleeping bags has grown into a vital (and very popular) part of our after-school program.
Over the last 6 years over 30 different students from Opelousas have achieved amazing outdoor goals across America. We have canoed the Boundary Waters in Minnesota, walked the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina and Vermont, climbed 13,000 ft. passes in Colorado, and completed a rim-to-rim hike of the Grand Canyon.
This program could not have been implemented without the guidance and support of Pack & Paddle. Pack & Paddle has helped HFO by contributing over $3,000 of store merchandise to the HFO Adventure Crew and obtaining pro deals with vendors for gear. They have also aided in securing $14,000 worth of grants through various foundations including: Columbia Belay Grant, Grassroots Foundation, Outsiders Ball, and the Outdoor Foundation.
Their investment has been much more than gear and cash. They have mentored our leadership while planning trips and regularly given us the opportunity to share our Adventure Crew stories with their friends and customers. Having them invest in us personally while being one of our biggest cheerleaders has sustained us in so many ways.
So I want to encourage you to consider your purchasing power the same way you consider your giving. Every time we choose to make a purchase for our families we are investing in the businesses and business models we choose to buy from. I encourage you to consider investing in a business that invests back into Acadiana and has been doing it for over 41 years.
So Cher, make a pass at Pack & Paddle. Buy something nice for you or someone special and smile, knowing when you buy local, YOU are helping develop our community!