Daniel Arbuckle began his love affair with local waters at just seven years old. His family operated a camp for the Boy Scots of San Joaquin, and although he was too young to participate in the program, he enjoyed his time there, “with my own little kayak, just cruising around.”
His love for kayaking continued as he entered adulthood, working at many kayak and adventure shops throughout the Central Valley. “I came in to do their kayak program, the Wednesday night social paddle, and the Lodi paddle club,” he explains. Eventually both businesses closed, but Dan knew Lodi was still an excellent spot for a kayaking business.
With strong roots in the kayaking world, many companies and vendors supported Dan’s dream of opening his own shop. “I had no money,” he admits. “So I took out a $10,000 loan, and vendors supplied all the kayaks we needed.” That 10 grand went toward building the Headwaters Kayak Shop van, and the purchase of basic supplies.
Headwaters Kayak Shop opened their Cluff Avenue location in 2010. Here, they offer everything residents need to get out on the water. From quality kayak and paddle board merchandise (for purchase or rental) and expert instruction, to Weekly Wednesday Evening Social Paddles, Full Moon Paddles, and weekend getaways, the shop truly honors Dan’s mission, to get people outside, exploring their natural environment and seeing all the Monkelumne River and the Delta have to offer. “Growing up on the river and spending time outside has brought me so much peace and understanding, and I want to share that with people on a daily basis.”
In 2014, Headwaters Kayak Shop began running Lodi Lake’s boathouse, where they offer rentals, tours, and lessons. Today, the business is truly a family affair. “My kids and wife Ashlie work with me at the shop,” Dan explains, “Chances are on any day you’ll see at least one or two of the four of us at the boathouse… or on the water.” Dan’s daughter, Mackenzie, first joined her dad on his kayak at only three months old. Now, as a two-year-old, she continues to enjoy sharing his passion. And that same goes for Dan’s parents, who retired and opened their own Headwaters Kayak shop in Redding.
“It changes people, it’s a snow-ball effect,” Dan says of his love for the sport. “One person comes out for a paddle with us, and next week they bring three of their friends.” In further support of a healthier, outdoorsy, conscious, San Joaquin—Dan, the Headwaters team, and the City of Lodi—founded the Kayak Festival. This April they celebrated their second year, with a two-day festival offering live music, food trucks, vendors, demonstrations, clinics, river tours, kayak and fishing tournaments, and deals on equipment. “We just love getting the community together to kick off spring, dust off the kayaks, and hit the water.”
With the current paddleboard craze, Headwaters Kayak has expanded to fulfill this fairly new need, coming from surfer-inspired, Southern California trends. Last summer’s spike in demand led Headwaters to now offer 40 paddleboards, a six-person board for family fun, and even paddleboard yoga classes offered every Friday and Saturday! “Paddle boarding offers a really awesome, unique perspective of your surroundings,” Dan says. “And it’s a great workout for your core. I’ve heard you burn just as many calories as hiking and biking.”
If you have yet to experience the Central Valley via water- we suggest you do so! Gather a group of friends, get out in the sun, and enjoy a truly unique experience that is both healthy and healing, with Headwaters’ help. “Our shop is here to be an asset and a resource to the community,” Dan says. “We really hope and strive to be the community hub for paddle sports in the valley, some people just have a shop to give the product, we try to be so much more.”
Hit the Water:
Headwaters Kayak Shop
847 N. Cluff Ave., Ste. A-6 Lodi