Adventure Bound onthefly is On the Way
By Jann Wiswall
With one big move, John Rounds is on a mission to bring year-round adventure and introduce some new trends to Ellicottville and beyond – far beyond.
Born and raised in Ellicottville, Rounds has been around the world pursuing outdoor adventure, both on his own time and with sporting goods companies. Now he’s bringing his product expertise, business acumen and marketing savvy from Colorado, where he runs SUPonthefly, an online specialty retail outfitter of outdoor, paddle sport and fishing gear, to Ellicottville where he will soon open the brick-and-mortar Adventure Bound onthefly store.
The store is located at 16 Washington Street in the building that once housed his parents’ original Adventure Bound store for 20 years until it closed in the 1990s.
The store will not only sell top-of-the-line outdoor equipment, fly-fishing gear and accessories, but also will be distributing Rounds’ new, very own brand of inflatable stand up paddleboards (SUPs).
SUPs originated in Hawaii as offshoots of surfboards. They have been popular there and in much of the U.S. for many years, attracting fitness lovers, competitors, river tourists, fly fishing enthusiasts and family fun-seekers to the straightforward but challenging sport. They’re used on rivers, lakes and oceans and one of the latest trends is SUP yoga.
Indeed, Rounds says, “stand up paddleboarding is one of the fastest growing sports in the country. It’s time it got to this part of the world where we have a huge selection of fantastic rivers, lakes and ponds.”
SUPs can be hard (made with lightweight carbon) or inflatable. The SUP onthefly brand is an inflatable style that is highly portable, packable and storable.
“With an inflatable, you don’t need a roof rack on your vehicle, nor do you have to build a storage shed for it. You deflate it and toss it in the trunk and just store it in a closet,” he says.
Still, the style is a matter of preference and intended use (not to mention lively debate), so the store will sell both styles and several brands in many lengths and widths and it will be the world headquarters for Rounds’ SUP onthefly brand, which will be available through the store’s website.
Of course, you’ll be able to try out a SUP before buying. The store will be sponsoring demonstrations on a nearby lake for beginners and experts alike to ‘test the waters’ with different styles, and may also provide rentals.
Of course, Adventure Bound onthefly will be a full-service outdoor store with a wide range of quality equipment and clever gadgets for everyone interested in the outdoor lifestyle. Brands include: Yakima roof racks; Osprey backpacks and luggage; Swiss Army knives and Victorinox watches; Nite-Ize lighting and lifestyle devices (described by Rounds as “way cool stuff”); YakAttack fishing gear; MSR backcountry stoves and tents; Bison coolers; Ruffwear performance dog equipment; and more. There will also be a children’s department with technical clothing and action-inspiring toys.
Rounds points out that 85 percent of the brands he’ll carry in his store do not exist elsewhere in town.
“They’re unique to the area, so we’re not competing directly with other Ellicottville shops.”
Of the utmost importance to Rounds is having in-store expertise and superior customer service, and he has found that in a long-time friend and colleague, Stephen Wilkinson, who is moving from Michigan to manage the store. Wilkinson has 25 years experience in the outdoor equipment business and is the perfect person for the job, Rounds says. Wilkinson’s wife also will work with the company “behind the scenes.”
“Our attention to customer service will always be ‘live’ in the store,” says Rounds. His wife Christy also will work there when they’re in town for big weekends and events, and he’ll be looking for additional staff with particular outdoor expertise in the near future.
Adventure Bound will be sharing space with Ellicottville’s The Boardroom snowboard shop, which will open its second EVL location on the lower level of the Adventure Bound space. It will be open during the winter season only, giving each the opportunity to showcase their products in the unique, high-traffic setting at the center of the village.
So why did Rounds choose Ellicottville for this undertaking?
“Of course, I grew up here, so it’s home. Plus there’s the family history. But I’ve traveled all over the world and there just aren’t a lot of places like Ellicottville,” Rounds said.
From a business perspective, “it’s near a lot of bigger cities and it draws people from all over the east coast, Midwest and Canada, not to mention farther afield, so it’s a great place to introduce a new sport and business.” And, he added, the space was going to be rented sooner or later (the building is owned by Rounds’ mother Heidi Widger), and likely would have been divided into several storefronts.
“My business perfectly fits the space as it is, so it just seemed like an appealing opportunity that I might never have again.”
Adventure Bound expects to be open in time for Fall Festival weekend. To stay up-to-date with their progress and special grand opening promotions, follow them on Facebook at AdventureBoundonthefly or visit www.adventureboundonthefly.com.