The Gulf Coast Ducks have teased a possible return to the streets and waterways of Mobile, but the tour company will continue without one of its founders and manager.
In a marketing email with the subject line “Let’s Get Quacking!,” the company announced the Duck boats would splash again “with your help,” following a months-long hiatus due to what officials had said was an inability to find affordable insurance for the military-style amphibious vehicles, following a deadly accident in Branson, Missouri, last summer.
Scott Tindle, the recognizable face and former part-owner of the Ducks announced through Facebook he would not be joining the relaunch.
Thank you all for your texts and messages regarding the possible reopening of Gulf Coast Ducks,” Tindle wrote on Facebook. “With that in mind, Beth and I wanted to let everyone know that we will not be a part of the reboot of the Ducks. With the closing of the Ducks in December we pivoted our time, energy and effort into building Experiential Design Group. With many emerging partnerships, that provide opportunities to help grow products on a nationwide scale, we are very excited about the opportunities on the horizon. We will still call Mobile home, though growing national brands may require substantial travel and time committed away from our hometown.”
In a text message Monday, May 6, Tindle confirmed he sold his ownership stakes in the Ducks, the Fort of Colonial Mobile, Sylvia’s Biscuits + Poboys and Five Star Auto Care to his former business partners, Grant and Matt Zarzour, “who still own the businesses,” he wrote. As for who will take over the day-to-day management of the businesses, Tindle wrote he’s “not certain.”
Matt Zarzour confirmed in a text message Tuesday, May 7 that he and his brother, Grant, would remain as co-owners, following Tindle’s departure. Matt Zarzour wrote that the relaunch of the tours is dependent upon the presale of 2,500 tickets. The group is planning to re-launch ticket sales this week.
“We would have Ducks operational by the second week of June,” Matt Zarzour wrote, if ticket sales reach the threshold. “We will still be operating out of the Fort of Colonial Mobile.”
Tindle and the Zarzours were involved in a deal to purchase an old, city-owned warehouse and accompanying vacant lot on St. Anthony Street. The warehouse had been previously leased to the Gulf Coast Ducks’ parent company to use for storage and maintenance of the duckboats. The initial lease allowed the group a right of first refusal and the property was sold without a bid.
While a city is not required to put the sale of property up for bid, many questioned the $255,000 sale price for the 11,000-square-foot building and the almost block’s worth of land. Documents requested and obtained by Lagniappe confirmed the city used a 3-year-old appraisal to set that price. The group obtained the land and warehouse for a bit more than $6 a square foot, a number far below what other land sales downtown have brought.
The group has also dealt with fallout from its management of the Fort of Colonial Mobile, another city-owned building. Activation Management inked a deal with the History Museum of Mobile in 2016 to operate the fort. As part of the deal, the management company pays no rent. The company operates Sylvia’s from inside the fort. Both the Zarzours and History Museum Board Chairman Greg Reynolds have expressed regret over the deal in the more than two years since it was struck.
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