Call of the Wild – Riverside Outfitters
Local roving reporter Jason Moreau recently interviewed Matt Perry – owner of Riverside Outfitters – for your reading pleasure. Read this interview and tell me you don’t want to go to the river right NOW. I know I do.
As someone who didn’t grow up in Richmond, one of the first things that impressed me about the region was the one thing that’s been rightfully impressing people for a long time, the James River. I recently caught up with Riverside Outfitters owner Matt Perry for his thoughts on Richmond, the ‘Rivah’, and business.
What’s your favorite part of the river?The fact that it’s undammed and you get whatever Mother Nature gives you…and the Urban Forest buffer that makes you feel you’re in the mountains while you’re really within the city limits.
How does the James River compare to others in the area for white water rafting?By far the best white water rafting East of West Virginia Mountains. Up to Class IV rapids through spring and Class III or IV in the summer depending on rainfall.
What are some of your favorite things to do in Richmond?
Winter-hike the Buttermilk trail with my kids to the canal walk, hit Sine for lunch and hike back to Forest Hill Park; Paddle the Flatwater and Upper sections of the James here in town; Find any reason to hang out outside in the Fan and in Church Hill…particularly in the Fall to see the first Sugar Maples turn, Swim at Southampton Recreation Association, feast at Edo Squid with family and friends, play soccer and watch my kids do the same. I could go on for a long time.
Where’s the best spot for tree climbing in Richmond?Larus Park, James River Park System, Forest Hill Park, you name it.
What made you want to start the business? Scott started the business as a means of getting kids back outside and enjoying what he relished so much…playing in trees. He also wanted to create an outdoor community center for Richmond where like-minded Richmonders and visitors could easily find ways of using Richmond’s amazing natural assets and connect with other people wanting to do the same thing.
What one thing do you wish you had known before staring the business?The one thing I wish I had known was how to better spread the word and generate awareness of what we offer. Becoming a Richmond treasure requires a lot more promoting than I’m naturally inclined to do.
What is your favorite part of the job?My favorite part of the job, undoubtedly, is connecting with customers and seeing them have fun…pure, basic, natural fun!!!
How do you tailor your offerings to younger kids?All of our tree climbing/ high rope elements can be adjusted for varying level of difficulty and instructor support. Likewise we can steer people to different sections of the river based on age, skill level and river/weather conditions.
What are some of your future plans for the business?Continue, modestly, on our journey to become Richmond’s outdoor community center…grow our programs at a natural rate and keep inventing new ways to help kids fall in love with their natural abilities and fall in love with the outdoors.