Small Business Spotlight: Raccoon Creek Outfitters

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

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Small business owners tend to be passionate about their work. Even so, it’s hard to match the enthusiasm and pure joy of Bobbi Hoy when she talks about Raccoon Creek Outfitters, the Vinton County business she and husband Dustin started together.

What began as a dream is now in its third season and growing every year. “People thought we were crazy when we opened. We started in April 2017 with 28 canoes and eighteen kayaks. Now, we’re in our third season and have 106 boats. There are times we have them all out on the water at once,” Bobbi said. “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown.”

2.jpgRaccoon Creek Outfitters does it all.  They offer kayak and canoe rentals, a store and campground. They even offer their grounds for event rental.

The livery offers canoe and kayak rentals for five and seven mile routes, giving customers everything they need for a leisurely trip down the Raccoon. “This is a good creek to start on. It’s not fast moving water so you can go at your own pace,” she said. “One thing that makes it a little different is that we left the tree tops. That means it’s not just a lazy river. You have to paddle, to steer, and that makes a more enjoyable experience.”

All skill levels are welcome at Raccoon Creek Outfitters but they are pleased to introduce their passion to the beginner. “It’s ok if you’ve never even held a paddle before. We’ll take you out to the landing, show you some techniques and let you practice before we send you out,” she said.

3With 34 acres situated along the peaceful shores of Raccoon Creek in eastern Vinton County, it’s an ideal place to camp. Primitive campsites are available along the creek banks while RV sites with electric hookup are available as well.

A shelter house and large kitchen are available to rent for events such as reunions, parties and festivals.

Plus, the store offers a large variety of Bonafide and NuCanoe kayaks, life jackets, fishing gear and other supplies. They also sell Bending Branches Paddles, Yak Attack gear, Anchor Wizard anchoring systems and Venom Lures.

But the Raccoon Creek story isn’t really about the boats and other tangibles the business offers. It’s actually about the people and the exploration of the natural world they encourage here.  “We say that you may come here as a stranger but you will leave as family because if you’re a friend of ours, you are family,” Bobbi explained.

Their sense of friendship and family extends to their team as well. “We don’t have employees or staff. We are a team here and everyone is valuable to the team,” she said. “My husband and I always had jobs where we worked for someone else so we know how important it is to feel valued. That’s why everyone has a say and that’s part of the reason everyone loves coming to work.”

boat 1.jpgDustin Hoy worked for and managed another canoe livery for several years, learning the ropes in hopes of someday pursuing his dream to own his own livery. “Dustin is the backbone. He’s knowledgeable in every aspect of the boats and, if he doesn’t know it, he’ll learn. It’s his passion, his dream, and I’m lucky enough to be living it with him,” she said with a smile.

It is a family affair as Bobbi’s brother manages the business while her two kids help out as well. “Family is everything to us and we are proud to have our family working with us and cheering us on,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if not for Dustin’s mom (Arretha Hoy) who helped us get this place and for so many others who have helped us along the way. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”

She also credits those who help to promote the business every chance they get. For example, her sister Adeanna Chandler was the first customer they put on the water and one of their biggest fans. “She has a stack of business cards and she gives them to everyone she sees. She advocates for us in so many ways and my appreciation for her is big to say the least. My parents Dean and Carol Chandler, also tell everyone about us. It means the world when people have your back!”

The Raccoon Creek Outfitters team consists of Mark Chandler, Rose Chandler, Cecilia Chandler, Bret Chumley, Brett Coleman, Justin Turner, Clinton Lester, Tessa Hoy, Alina Hoy, Okey Fitzwater and Arretha Hoy. They also credit their Pro Staff Team of Matt Davis, Reed Carpenter, Michael Jennings and John Shef.

When talking about the people who have made a difference, she mentioned several customers who have supported the company from the beginning including one family from Canada that comes every year as well as locals who come as often as they can.

“We are truly blessed. Life is so short, you have to learn to appreciate the little things and the wonderful people who surround you. Blessings come in all forms and we are overwhelmingly blessed,” she said.

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The company makes an effort to go the extra mile and to give back for all the good fortune they have enjoyed. From serving breakfast to campers every morning to free movie nights to helping out with community events, Bobbi said that her team enjoys staying busy and being involved.

They also offer a number of discounts including a ten percent discount for paddling their vessels to current military, veterans, nurses, law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters and teachers. Discount rates are available for 4-H clubs and large groups too.

Free Movie Friday is open to the public. Movies are family friendly and usually start around 9 p.m. every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather dependent. Both visitors and the community are welcome to bring a chair and snack to enjoy this free event.

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Conveniently located near Lake Hope State Park, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn and the Moonville Tunnel, the staff encourages customers to take advantage of other activities in the area. It’s also just a short drive to the Hocking Hills State Park and to Ohio University in nearby Athens. “Whatever people are doing, we just want to help them get outside and to enjoy nature,” she explained.

Visitors will hear countless species of birds as well as frogs, whippoorwill and the gentle splash of an occasional fish jumping in the water. “There’s nothing like floating. I love being on the water. It’s so peaceful to hear the birds and the wind in the trees and to just become one with the water. I sound like such a hippie,” she exclaimed.

Visit their website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events like Capsize Cancer and many others.

 

 

 

VCNB Supports Project Recognizing Ohio’s First Female Sheriff

Alice's House and Sheriff Maude DonationVCNB is pleased to assist the Vinton County Historical and Genealogical Society (VCHGS) by supporting their project to recognize Maude Collins as Ohio’s first female Sheriff. VCNB gave $1,500 to the project which will result in the creation of a Historical Marker at the Vinton County Courthouse, near the Sheriff’s Office where Collins served.

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Sheriff Maude Collins

Sheriff Maude was appointed Sheriff in 1925 following the death of her husband, Sheriff Fletcher Collins, who was killed in the line of duty. She went on to run for a term of her own, beating male candidates in both Primary and General Elections. Another county has made previous claims that their sheriff was the first Ohio woman to hold this position in the seventies. VCHGS applied to the Ohio History Connection’s historic markers program last year in an attempt to rectify the oversight.

VCNB Branch Manager Jane Nickels praised the efforts to recognize the pioneering sheriff. “We at the bank appreciate your efforts to preserve the memory of Sheriff Maude and to tell her story in a way that generations to come will see and appreciate,” she said.

VCHGS President Deanna Tribe thanked the bank for supporting this project which had already received donations from several local residents and others who wanted to help. “Maude Collins is a significant figure not only in Vinton County’s history, but also Ohio’s history, women’s history, and law enforcement’s history. This historical marker in her honor will make Maude’s story more known to the public,” Tribe said. She also thanked VCNB Marketing Specialist Brandi Betts for assisting in the research and preparation of the marker application.

Banking Together For Generations: The McGlaughlin Family’s Rich History

After 148 years in business, you might expect VCNB to have a few longtime customers. But would you expect to see one family bank with us since the year we opened our doors? That’s the case with Laura McGlaughlin’s family.

Laura recently turned 95 years young and has a host of stories about local history, our bank and the family farm.

Laura McGlaughlin is pictured with her grandsons Devry McGlaughlin and Scott McGlaughlin. The family has banked with Vinton County National Bank since the bank opened in 1867.

The first McGlaughlin to come to Vinton County settled on forty acres while the Civil War was still raging in other parts of the country. Andrew Jackson McGlaughlin found forested land near Zaleski, constructed a log cabin and began a new life in 1863.

When Daniel Will opened the doors of the Vinton County National Bank in 1867, McGlaughlin was among our first customers – and the family has been loyal to VCNB ever since.

Laura moved to the McGlaughlin family farm in 1938 when she was an 18 year old newlywed and moving in with her husband Beryl’s family. The home she still lives in is the 1863 log cabin but with some additions and improvements. “I came here when I was 18 and I’ve never lived anywhere else since then,” she said. “It is beautiful and peaceful out here. I think God made me special for this place.”

Over those 77 years, she has witnessed much of the area’s rich history and has recorded many stories in notebooks – handwritten stories in a stack of notebooks that her grandson Devry called a “treasure trove.” There are numerous tales that remain unwritten, including that of one McGlaughlin ancestor who was an aide to General George Washington.

She has a number of her own stories. The sweet natured woman was a popular Sunday School teacher for fifty years. She learned to drive in 1984, proving to everyone that 64 is still a good age to learn a new skill. Laura is the type of lady who knows everyone in the community and who everyone knows and loves.

Generations of the Will family have remained hands-on at the bank and Laura remembers doing businesses with many of them. She specifically remembers Bob Will, Sr. and his son Bob Will, Jr. We were thrilled to stop in for a visit at her home this summer so Laura could meet the next generation of Wills involved in the bank. Retail Banking Officer Tom Oyer is the grandson of Bob Will, Jr. and he enjoyed meeting this customer who could share some stories about his family.

Today the farm is 450 acres and her grandsons Scott and Devry help her care for the property and are even helping her look to the future. She is the Secretary for their new business Lookout Ridge Resources. They are working to obtain tree farm certification for the first time in more than thirty years and hope to bring back the farm’s once successful apple orchard.

Like most doting grandmothers, she makes no attempt to hide her affection for her grandsons. “I’m proud of them. They take good care of me,” she said of Scott and Devry. The pair are also enamored with farm and area history, happily sharing newspaper clippings and other documents from Vinton County history and even giving a guided walk to see an old one-room school house and a magnificent ridgetop view of Vinton County. “It’s beautiful and peaceful up here,” Laura said.

What’s more important than the beauty of this rural farm or stories from the past? According to Laura, the answer is love. “I try to be kind to people. The McGlaughlins have always been about helping people and I always try to be kind and helpful,” she said. “Love is the most important thing.”

Retail Accounts Officer Brenda Brooks has been serving Laura and her family since she came to work at the bank 36 years ago. “Laura is such a sweetheart. She’s been my customer for years and years and I just love her,” Brooks said. “And now I get to work with her grandsons! Imagine having that many generations of one family bank with you,” she said.

Through the last 148 years the McGlaughlins have remained loyal customers, seeing the bank through three different centuries, economic change and several wars. As the bank has grown from one office to seventeen and as modern advancements have replaced pen and paper with typewriters and typewriters with computers, the McGlaughlin family has been with us for the entire journey.

Banking has changed much over the years since Daniel Will hung out his shingle in McArthur in 1867 but as a community bank, some things never change. We love our communities and value the people in them. Knowing our customers and being their bankers for not just a lifetime but for generations is what it’s all about.

We thank Laura McGlaughlin, her grandsons and all those who came before them for banking with us then and now. Here’s to another 148 great years!