By Kristin Schultz
After 37 years of doing business on the shore of the Mohawk River, Boat House owners Bud and Sally Halsey want to sell the business and property, and retire.
“We’d like to sell sometime before we die,” Sally said with a laugh. The couple does not have a hard and fast deadline. But, since they live on the property, once they sell they’ll have to find another place to live.
“We’re not in a hurry,” said Bud. “But if someone wanted it in a hurry and the price was right, we’d find another place and go through the trial of eliminating all the stuff.”
They have not officially listed the property so there is no official asking price at the moment.
The Boat House is at 2855 Aqueduct Road in an old grocery store that was converted in the late 1960s.
In 1980, Bud Halsey was a research associate in metallurgy at GE and had an opportunity for a promotion that required relocating to Cincinnati. He was also an avid rower and belonged to a local rowing club.
“I didn’t want to [move],” said Bud. “We saw the opportunity to combine an existing business with rowing.”
They bought the business in September of 1980 and the building in 1984.
Bud gave lessons, and the shop sold rowing shells along with canoes, kayaks and accessories such as life jackets, oars and roof racks. They offered repair and rental services and participated in boat shows.
They also raised three children on the property, two of whom rowed and earned national medals while at Niskayuna High School.
In 2003, Bud had a stroke and the pair stopped doing the boat shows and giving lessons.
Today, the shop still sells and repairs kayaks and canoes as well as accessories. Kayaks are also available to rent and put in on the Mohawk or transport to another flat-water destination.
The business had been on an upward trajectory until Bud got sick, so business has leveled off in the 14 years since. The nature of the business has also changed. The Boat House now faces competition from large retailers selling kayaks on the cheap.
“People buy the cheap ones and they just end up in a landfill,” said Sally.
The rental business has been slower this year because of all the rain. Kayakers do not want to get caught out on the water during a storm or a downpour.
Through the ups and downs, Bud said he still enjoys working with customers.
“The customers are a joy,” he said.
Even though the building has historically been a boathouse, Sally said the location, on Aqueduct Road at the Niskayuna end of the Rexford Bridge, is ideal for any kind of business.
“We’re looking for anyone who might think it would be a possibility to do what we do or have a massage parlor or tarot card reading or a cafe or a printing company – really anything,” Sally said.
Two years ago, a restaurateur was interested, but the Halseys weren’t ready to sell.
Now, Bud said the spot would make a great place to have both a rental outfit and a cafe or snack bar.
For information, call the Boat House at 518-393-5711.