Type the word “kayak” into the search bar in any online marketplace and dozens of plastic boats pop up on the screen. A few blurry pictures and a vague description—“Almost like new”—isn’t much to go on. A savvy boat buyer wants to know the condition, the price, features and accessories. Sellers need to know how to set the price, safely sell the boat and the best websites for a speedy sale. To bring buyers and sellers together, Kayak Angler’s favorite used boat salesmen share their answers to these most important questions.
Tips for buying a used fishing kayak
Brian Vincent is manager at Appomattox River Company in Farmville, Virginia. While most of Vincent’s energy is focused on showing customers around the new-kayak showroom, he also maintains a selection of used kayaks in what he calls, the Salvage Yard.
When Vincent accepts a customer’s trade-in, he looks for one thing, “We look at the hull, then we look at the hull again.” He inspects for holes, soft spots, deep scratches or repairs. “Is the thing going to float?” he asks himself.
Then Vincent pores over the seat. “That’s where you’re going to spend most of your time,” he points out. He suggests paying close attention to the condition of the straps, buckles, base, padding and frame for damage.
After a thorough inspection, Vincent doesn’t worry about minor scratches and normal wear and tear. “I like a kayak with character,” he laughs.
To figure a fair price to pay, Justin Hausner, president of kayak outfitter Fuzzy Guppies in upstate New York, researches similar models online. “Consider how much a similar kayak is worth in your area,” he says. He looks at condition and subtracts dollars for significant damage and adds values for included accessories.
John Hipsher is product manager at YakAttack. “I’ve bought and sold a lot of kayaks in my time,” he laughs. Hipsher stresses regional differences in price. “There’s more competition in an urban area, so the price might be better,” he says.
All three experts agree, buyers need to be concerned about major condition issues and overlook minor wear and tear. Fishing kayaks can take a lot of abuse, and they get it.
Tips for selling a used fishing kayak
Kayak fishing’s explosion has flooded the market with used kayaks. Floating above the deluge requires sellers to go the extra mile when posting a boat for sale.
In Brian Vincent’s Salvage Yard, kayaks are sold “as is”. He says, “If something is broken or missing, we can pull from the huge inventory of outfitting we have laying around.” He stresses honestly advertising the kayak’s condition is the first step in luring a buyer.
For sellers working online, Justin Hausner stresses the importance of preparing the boat for sale. “Staging the boat by cleaning it and fixing any issues is really important to buyers,” he says. Hausner makes sure any accessories are in working condition.
When John Hipsher sells a boat, he goes the extra distance cleaning the hull and removing stickers. “A clean boat reflects how it was treated,” he says.
To post the kayak on an online exchange, Hipsher includes the maximum number of photos allowed. “Buyers want to see every detail and any damage before deciding to meet up,” he says. Hipsher includes photos of the boat from each side, then he includes supporting images of the logo, make and model, seat, hatches, bow, stern, hull and other features. He is sure to include images of scratches, river rash or high-traffic wear points. “If you don’t show the condition, buyers won’t take you seriously,” he says.
Hipsher also works hard on the written description. “Elaborate on the post title and description to include key words like fishing kayak or pedal kayak,” he says. Buyers will usually enter general search terms, so a detailed description improves the chances of attracting attention.
To set a sale price, the experts take condition and accessories into account. Hausner says, “Negotiations are an important part of the deal, everyone wants to feel like he is getting a bargain.” He and John Hipsher take the deal into account when deciding the price.
“I add $200 to the price I expect to get,” Hausner says. Hipsher has had success listing boats OBO to invite the best offer. He explains, “A firm price turns off buyers, I’ve had to negotiate even when I didn’t want to.”
Hipsher takes haggling to the next level. “I won’t include removable accessories when I post the boat for sale,” he says. Instead, he holds rod holders, cup holders and other add-ons as a negotiating tool. “If the buyer is on the fence, throwing in an accessory could be the tipping point,” he explains.
All three experts stress safety when buying and selling through an online marketplace. Research best practices on the support pages and never hesitate to walk away from a deal, no matter how good it may first seem.
Find a bargain with a used kayak | Featured photo: Courtesy Appomattox River Company