Ian Guthrie, 33, is from Memphis, Tennessee. Big Blue Betty Boo Boo is a 1990 Chevrolet P30 Step Van from Portland, Oregon. One year ago, Guthrie bought a one-way flight to Portland to pick up Betty. The plan was to drive her east. The journey was slated for two weeks. Destination: St. Augustine.
Fifty days passed before Guthrie actually got to St. Augustine—a blown engine outside Las Vegas sidelined him for ten days and the alluring beauty of places like Durango, Death Valley, and Cannon Beach made it impossible for him to stay on a strict schedule.
Back in St. Augustine (finally), Ian and Betty teamed up to start Drifters, a full service bike and beach rental company that offers daily and weekly rentals of everything from backpack beach chairs and shade tents to adult and kids’ bikes, coolers, and beach games. A love of the outdoors and exploration are what make Drifters special, according to Guthrie. Through Drifters, Guthrie provides each customer with a customized map of the best hikes, bike paths and surf spots in their area; ideal for getting the most out of any vacation or days off.
But it’s Betty that’s blowing up Instagram. We recently caught up with Guthrie and asked him about his radical approach to a conventional North Florida business model.
How’d you come to start Drifters?
After I got injured on the job, Fire and Ocean Rescue, I wasn’t going to be able to do it anymore. And I couldn’t imagine sitting at a desk being my life for the next 30 years. So this was one of my back burner ideas that I thought [St. Augustine] really had a need for.”
Are you essentially a food truck that sells beach equipment?
Not exactly. I more deliver whatever people need. Online you make the order, and specify the day and time you need the equipment, and I drop it all off right there. Then all you’ve got to do is use it, and leave it, and I come back and pick it up.
How did your trip impact the way you run Drifters?
There were a ton of moments that weren’t exactly supposed to happen—a blown engine in Vegas, and howling at the moon with other wanderlust dirtbags in the Yosemite Valley. And those times reminded me that this is what I want to be doing. I want to do something that recharges souls through adventurous experiences.
Do you have other employees yet, or are you doing it all?
Yeah, so at this point it’s just me. I’m able to swing it. But when you’re doing it, and it’s all you, it really doesn’t feel like work. I have no problem staying up late, putting on some music, taking down a couple beers and cleaning up a bunch of bikes.
By Beau Treyz