On a crisp November morning along Victoriaâ€™s Inner Harbour, Harold Aune ambles down the dock, cautiously avoiding a slick coating of frost on the wooden planks beneath his feet.
Stopping next to a half-dozen gleaming white rowing skiffs, he dials up his companyâ€™s website on an iPhone and makes a one-hour reservation.
Seconds later, the automated system replies with a four-digit code providing access to a key in a lockbox. Mr. Aune unlocks our vessel, slides the two-person skiff into the water and within minutes we are paddling across the glassy Gorge Waterway.
The Whitehall Spirit Rowing Club, as the operation is called, is the first of many franchises Mr. Aune and his long-time partner Marie Hutchinson hope to launch across North America in the next three years.
Franchise information is here.
Here’s a snippet:
The Whitehall SpiritÂ® Rowing Club franchise is an innovative new water sport franchise, ideal for current and future economic conditions. This franchise offers slide seat open water rowing, a new sport that is growing in popularity. Businesses that provide affordable, quick, efficient service programs that fit smoothly into our busy lifestyles, contributing fun, healthful activities are leading edge.
The WSRC operates more like a time share. It requires no full time management to be present on the dock. This minimizes costs and time commitment. Members receive training in boating and rowing skills. They become more confident, fitter, calmer, and happier exploring their local waterways and getting out in nature. Clubs specifically target the over 40 age group, who are seeking new ways to regain or achieve fitness levels while relieving stress.