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— Kermie is the name of the green Toyota Land Cruiser parked outside Ozark Mountain Trading Company in Garfield. Its owner is Larry Jenkins.

The love of floating led Jenkins and his brother Bruce, of Tulsa, Okla., to establish Ozark Mountain Trading Company in 2005.

Inside, one can find everything needed for a day or a life on the river.

"We grew up floating, we've been floating since we were kids. Then we thought 'why not sell some (boats)?'" Jenkins said.

The Jenkins are a family of tent campers who love to float and fish.

"I'm not a good fisherman, but I'm better than Bruce.

And you can write that," Jenkins said.

For 16 years, Jenkins has operated the RV sales and service business at the intersection of U.S. Hwy. 62 and Arkansas Highway 72.

In 2005, the brothers started with 10 canoes.

"We're in the early stages still, we aren't sure where it's gonna go. It's already gone in a different direction than we thought. We thought we would sell a handful of canoes in a year," he said.

When they added kayaks to the inventory, the first shipment was 13 boats.

"Now we'll sell 13 kayaks on a weekend in one day," he said.

The shop, run by Larry, his family and Bruce who comes on the weekends, sees people from all around with varied levels of abilities. Jenkins says he gets retired couples looking for recreation, repeat customers, adventurers who have never been on the water and people passing up vacations to buy boats for the family - something they can use year round, over and over.

Jenkins said floating is not just a summer activity anymore, but becoming more and more popular in winter and early spring.

"I think we're more family oriented than a lot of places because that's how we grew up," Jenkins said.

Ozark Mountain Trading Co. carries everything needed for a trip on the river - boats, paddles, personal flotation devices (PFDs), dry bags, rod holders, car racks and even trailers.

"We have the best inventory of boats around, but not as many accessories. We're going to be looking at carrying more accessories," Jenkins said, since the addition onto the building this past spring has allowed them more room.

"We carry Buffalo brand boats, they are made in Jasper, Ark. They are not known nationally, but they're used around here and best on Arkansas water," said Jenkins.

"We have inflatable kayaks that we just got in. They are good for transporting, they pack in a backpack, weigh 20 pounds and have a 10 minute set up," said Jenkins.

At this time, the shop offers only retail, no rentals or lessons.

Jenkins said he went from floating every weekend to maybe every other weekend, but if he can't be out there, he might as well be in the shop with people who also love the sport.

Ozark Mountain Trading Company is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

They are located at 14644 E.

U.S. Hwy. 62 in Garfield.

Community, Pages 12 on 09/16/2009

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