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River Runner Outdoor Center celebrates 40th anniversary

Allen Wallace

May 21, 2023

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When Guy Jones opened a small business May of 1983, offering products and services for paddle sports enthusiasts, the thought of still running it four decades later never even entered his mind.

That, however, is exactly what happened. That business, River Runner Outdoor Center, celebrated its 40th anniversary Saturday at 905 Gervais St. in the Vista.

"Nobody goes into a small business thinking they're gonna be around for 40 years," Jones said with a smile Saturday. "I'm as surprised as anybody that we're still here."

Jones and his team celebrated the big day with coffee and biscuits for customers Saturday morning and cake and ice cream and cake in the afternoon. Special works by local artist Susan Lenz, made from kayak shipping material, were on display along with Congaree National Park watercolors by Stephen Chesley.

River Runner was founded in West Columbia, in a historic building near the intersection of Meeting and State, before moving to the Vista in 1992. The store's mission never changed.

"We sell things that are interesting," Jones said. "People are attracted to them. And I think there is an interest in a small local standalone business,  particularly something that's fun. So, you know, what's not to like?"

River Runner offers a world-class selection of kayaks and canoes for sale, with hundreds available on site, as well as the only canoe/kayak rental service in the Midlands.

"We sell things that aren't available just everywhere, particularly when we get into paddle sports, which is our specialty," Jones said.  

Jones, who has served on the board of the Congaree Vista Guild for more than 30 years, has watched the neighborhood grow and helped lead it into the thriving hospitality district of today.

"When we came here in '92, the railroad had just ceased operating and the Vista was in very, very early stages. But you know, it certainly developed and the development is not finished," Jones said. 

For more information on River Runner Outdoor Center, visit

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