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The History Of Coontail

1990-1991- Ground Zero

In 1990, Steve Coon’s brother, Philip, conceptualized a small town convenience store for Boulder Junction in an existing service station, then known as “Rick’s Amoco”. At that time, Steve and Lisa Coon were living in St. John in the Virgin Islands. Philip and his wife, Nan, persuaded them to come back to the Northwoods and purchase the business together. Their partnership changed the name from Rick’s Amoco to Coontail Corner, and so the business began.

The first summer, Coontail Corner initially continued to run as a service station. Steve changed oil, while Lisa rang up customers and purchased alternators and tires.

1992 – Evolution into a Convenience Store

In the Fall of 1991, the transformation into a convenience store began. With the help of family friend, Jimmy Weston, and Lisa’s brother, Darrell (she only has one), the original metal front of the building was removed and replaced with cedar. The same cedar is there today. A gable roof was added over the very leaky, original, flat roof. Out went the garage doors and service bays, and in came milk, bread and a little bit of clothing.

1993 – Introduction of Watersports and Clothing

In the winter of 1992-93, Lisa and Steve decided to branch out. They expanded the clothing selection, and decided to leverage Steve’s wealth of watersports knowledge with a bit of equipment. Phil had the idea to add kayaks to the inventory. Although it seemed like a crazy idea at the time, it went amazingly well.

The Coon’s worked around the obstacles of running a business in a small town that was somewhat off the beaten path. As the freight trucks did not come any further north than Rhinelander, Steve would actually drive there to pick up kayaks. They were soon selling kayaks all over Northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

1996 – A New Gas Station Complex

In the mid-1990’s, there was a government mandate to update fuel dispensing systems and clean up contamination associated with underground storage tanks and petroleum products. A fund, PECFA (Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award), was created to cover the cost of the cleanup. The work was required to be completed by 1998.


In 1995, the Coon’s decided to move forward with the cleanup, equipment replacement, and expansion of a new building. The additional facility was to house a new convenience store just to the south of the existing store. They broke ground in October 1996. Construction was completed just before deer season.

1997 - The Birth Of Coontail Sports

With the convenience store out of the corner building, the Coon’s now had an area for more equipment and clothing. The name, Coontail Corner, went with the convenience store, so a new name was needed for the addition. Coontail Sports was born.

2010 - Expansion To Arbor Vitae

In the depths of the financial crisis in the early 2000’s, many construction projects were put on hold. Steve and Lisa purchased a building in Arbor Vitae that had only been partially completed and remained sitting unused for a couple of years. It was a great location for their business, as it sat on Hwy 51, which gave them further exposure into a larger market. With its high ceilings and large showroom, it was ideally suited for large equipment, such as kayaks and boards. Once the purchase was made, the Coon’s decided to expand into docks and lifts as well.


2012 - Out With The Raccoon

Lisa Coon honestly always hated the original logo with the raccoon, as she felt it did not blend well with the image of stylish clothing and accessories. In 2012, everyone came to an agreement to remove the pesky raccoon and go with a new fresh logo and tagline ~ Coontail, Play in Style.

2013 - The Dockshop

Steve Coon’s dock business continued to grow and expand. In 2013, a new Dockshop was opened in Arbor Vitae. Ben Tlusty and Travis Pingel partnered with the Coons and operated the business until they purchased it in 2015. The business is still thriving and an additional location has been recently opened in Rhinelander.

2014 - Coontail Market

Boulder Junction had not had a grocery store for several years, and there was truly a need for one. On July 1st, 2014, Coontail Market opened it’s doors. The 11,000 square foot building was added onto the original Coontail Corner store.


In December of 2022, Lisa and Steve Coon decided to "pass the torch" to a wonderful couple, Laura and Steve Mantz. The new owners plan on building on the legacy that has evolved over the last 32 years from its humble beginnings as a service station. Coontail Market became Lakewood Market, which was inspired by the Mantz's passion for the Northwoods.


2016 - 25 Year Anniversary

Coontail celebrated 25 years in business in 1991. The Coon's appreciate everyone that has helped Coontail achieve the growth and success has over the past 1/4 century.


2019 - Coontail Adventures

With the continued increase in cycling activity in the north woods Coontail purchased the building to the south of the Boulder Junction campus to house the bike and rental operations. It is an ideal location because it is directly on the paved bike trail offering safe and easy access.

The new location offers bike sales, service and rentals as well as kayak and paddle board rental.