Imagine paddling down the mighty Colorado River, four days into an 18-day rafting trip, when suddenly the inner tube on the raft holding your provisions pops. A group of 16 rafters who’d bought their gear from the Northwest River Supplies (NRS) catalog found themselves in this predicament last July. After a patch job, the raft made it to the night’s camp, but it became clear that the patch would not hold.
The next day, the customers called NRS’s 800-number (printed on the side of the tube) from a pay phone in Phantom Ranch, at the base of the Grand Canyon. The catalog sales rep said he would take care of the situation and immediately faxed over some tips for repairing the craft. Two days later, the group pushed off again, and the patch job seemed to be holding.
That same afternoon, a commercial expedition craft pulled up to the beach where the group had stopped for lunch, and delivered a tattered, four-ft.-long cardboard box from the Moscow, ID-based NRS. The box had traveled air express to Phoenix and was driven several hours to the rim of the Grand Canyon. A mule train then carried it down the hot and windy trail to Phantom Ranch, where the ranger unloaded it and handed it off to the expedition guides with instructions to find the group. Inside the box was a new bright blue tube proudly bearing the NRS logo and number. What a lifesaver!