Let Your Adventure Begin at Asheville Adventure Rentals
Story and Photos by TIM W. JACKSON
A year ago, best friends Melissa Bertenthal and Derek Tourno scribbled down the basic tenets of a business plan while enjoying some food and beverages at Papas & Beer. This summer, the fruits of that plan have bloomed in the form of Asheville Adventure Rentals (AAR).
The two always had an affinity for the outdoors, so much so that Melissa named her son River. A business that focused on the natural wonder around Asheville seemed like a dream. A call for grant proposals from RiverLink was just the impetus that Melissa and Derek needed to take the project seriously. As a an organization looking to assist in the economic and environmental revitalization of the French Broad River, RiverLink was looking to help out a commercial outfitter to run an outdoor store and float trips on the French Broad River.
Their business plan went from scribbles to a full proposal that won a grant from RiverLink. “We are so thankful for RiverLink,” Melissa says. “They have been a huge help in every step of the process.”
That process has been to take a building that was an old, dark, grungy tire store on Riverside Drive and turn it into a light and bright full-service paddle shop. A grand opening in June saw Asheville Adventure Rentals officially on the map and Melissa says the response from the community has been fantastic. “Everything has been going well thus far,” Melissa says. “Very well.”
Already the company has grown and evolved, carrying more product lines for rent and for sale. At AAR you can find, whitewater, recreational, and touring boats; stand up paddleboards (SUPs); fishing gear; disc golf supplies; and an array of river and camping essentials. AAR also rents and sells a new line of boat called a bellyak (developed by a new local company started by Adam Masters and wife Anna Woodruff-Masters) that is basically a kayak designed to be ridden on your belly rather than sitting up.
Self-guided and scheduled float and fishing trips are offered on the French Broad River. For instance, you can rent all the gear you need and a shuttle ride for a trip from the AAR shop to Woodfin Park for $30/person. Their Hominy Creek trip is $40/person and their Bent Creek trip is $50/person. If you have your own gear, you can just catch a shuttle ride for $10 or buy a shuttle pass for the season (costs vary).
If you’d like to improve your outdoors skills, classes are available, too. Instruction is available for kayaking, SUPs, and SUP yoga with additional classes anticipated. AAR has reached out to Girls at Play and H2O Dreams to lead its instruction and hopes to partner with other businesses as its operation continues to grow.
While rentals are a major portion of AAR’s business, you can see it’s only one piece of the overall pie. Instruction and float trips are being well received and the retail aspect continues to grow. In addition to new boats and gear from top manufacturers, AAR also offers used gear via consignment or trade-in on kayaks.
If you are interested in some river adventures, Melissa, Derek, shop-dog Peyton, and occasionally Melissa’s young son River will be there to greet you and assist you in whatever way possible.
Asheville Adventure Rentals is located at the corner of Pearson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive on the French Broad River. For more information, call 828.505.7371, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit ashevilleadventurerentals.com online.