Name: Liz Kratz
Company: Trading Post Canoe, Kayak & Campground
Job Title: Marketing & Communications Coordinator
Location: Mongo & Bristol, IN
Tell me the story of the Trading Post Canoe, Kayak & Campground.
The Trading Post is family-owned and operated. It opened in 1971. The Trading Post has changed hands to new owners, Andy & Jess Linder. They are awesome, & I know the next 10 years will be just like the last in the sense that they'll take great care of the place & customers & continue to grow & improve things! We run 26 miles of the Pigeon River, located in the Pigeon River Fish & Wildlife area. It’s a pretty big area for natural resources, protected by the DNR, so we are pretty secluded in a tiny town. We run 6 different trips. They have options to depart from our location and be bused back or to be bused up the river and return to the Trading Post. It depends on the length of trip that they choose. We also do some special event guided trips, like a moonlight paddle or we do guided trips for special groups where we do a dam tour, but the majority of the trips are unguided. We also have a 70-site campground that follows the riverside & the inlet pond on the property. We have electric, primitive and groups sites. We have a few acres all to ourselves within the Fish & Wildlife area.
How did you get involved with the Trading Post?
I am from Mongo, so I started working at the Trading Post at 17 when I was in High School. After that I moved to Texas. I came back for a long visit. There was a need for more marketing and advertising work [at Trading Post] because we get so busy in the summer at both businesses that the owners were running out of time to do that stuff. Trading Post had never hired someone to do that work, so they offered me that position and I started doing the Marketing & Communications.
What do you like to do in your off-season?
I work year-round but I do have some flexibility to travel at least a few weeks out of the year and I do love that. Most of the time that is during the colder months here in Indiana, so that is great for me because I like the heat and I can only handle a limited amount of winter, so I need to break that up with warmer areas. It’s usually December or January.
I was in Arizona last year for the first time- I was in the Grand Canyon and hiked part of the Rim Trail. That has probably been my favorite place to be. But I also stayed south of Sedona. And I had no idea that Arizona has the forested land that it does. We camped in the Kaibab National Forest and it was absolutely gorgeous.
Do you have a favorite memory from your time at Trading Post?
I never kayaked before I worked at the Trading Post. I had canoed a bit but it wasn’t really a hobby of mine because I just wasn’t introduced to it enough. So, my favorite thing about the business is that it gave me insight into what my favorite things to do are- being on the water and being outdoors.
What’s the most rewarding part of your job?
I love that I am outside every day. Not all day, but every single day I get a couple hours at least outside. But the most rewarding part is introducing someone to it- someone that has never even experienced it before and they come back to tell me that they love it and plan to come back or maybe they’re even getting their own kayaks or canoes. It’s just reward to introduce someone to the same things that you love.
How do you take care of yourself during the busy season?
I have a dog, and she stays with me most of the time. She is really a traveler herself. And so, she is like my support dog- I think all animals are support animals whether they are trained and registered for that or not. She really mellows me out and goes on adventures. So that is what keeps me sane.
Have you been to the AOA conference? If so, can you tell me a bit about your experience?
Yes. I went to the AO Conference in 2016. I wasn’t able to go last year. In 2016 I mainly did the pre-season ordering for apparel and products we sell in the shops. But I also went to 4 or 5 seminars and I loved them. It’s also about just getting to know people at the mixer at the beginning [of the conference] and being on the show room floor was great to see all the products we can carry in the shop.
It’s funny- we always come together in December or January and we always feel like we have SO much to do because we come up with new ideas, especially from the conference. It reminds us that this is why we work year-round- because there is so much we can do with the business and this is our time to plan it.