5 Questions with the New Owners of Roanoke Mountain Adventures
Jeff and Bethany Todd recently bought Roanoke Mountain Adventures, which offers gear rentals and has an outdoor gear consignment shop. The full-service outfitter has guided and self-guided outdoor adventures for mountain biking, road cycling, paddleboarding (SUP), kayaking, tubing, and other activities.
Consignment allows you to sell gently used gear or find something new-to-you at a stellar price.
Here’s what you can expect from the Todds and RMA’s outdoor business in the future.
1. What made you decide to purchase RMA?
We truly loved and appreciated the business Jim and James Revercomb created and the community that grew up around it. More than anything, we wanted to ensure that RMA would continue to flourish and further the same goals as it always had: Outdoor accessibility, sustainability, and community.
RMA is a staple of the Roanoke outdoor community for a reason. Jim and James – and our friend Dan Lucas, who left earlier this year to join Cardinal Bicycle – were concerned first and foremost with nurturing outdoor recreation. Unsurprisingly, they have gone above and beyond to ensure a successful handoff since we completed the purchase.
We certainly had our moments of doubt as prospective rookie business owners, especially when the uncertainty of a global pandemic arose while we were working on the potential sale. But ultimately the course of events just affirmed our decision. We kept working with the Revercombs and knew we had their full support. And the more we have all learned about the coronavirus, the more it has reinforced the importance of supporting and growing outdoor recreation.
More than ever, outside is the place to be. And we want to do our part to empower as many people from as many corners of the community as possible to get there.
2. What changes can people expect to see, either now or in the future?
RMA has from the start been a business with a fixed core belief and a flexible and adaptive approach to expressing it. The business grew organically and has morphed over time. When I first visited the shop, all the rental equipment occupied the floor and consignment was in its infancy. Now, the space is largely dedicated to retail, as befits the growth of the consignment business.
So … will there be change? Yes, there will be some. But it will be in the nature of continued evolution. And we will be working from the same original animating purpose.
We are definitely thinking of ways to make the retail experience even bigger and better for shoppers and consignors, to further our mission of reuse and accessibility. Coronavirus permitting, we want to increase programming. The Thursday Night Special mountain bike ride is awesome, so why not do more things like it?! Many people are curious about outdoor recreation and just need a boost to try it for themselves. We would also love to increase outreach on the consignment side. The more people consign and buy, the better the marketplace works for everyone.
Otherwise, we are doing some rethinking and reflection on rental and service offerings to try to make the business function well for our family and best serve the community. The number of possibilities is honestly overwhelming. So many people have approached us already with ideas – more river stuff! fishing! snow sports! more instructional classes! – that our heads are spinning. In a good way! We love the passion and understand that everyone wants their favorite activities represented, particularly given the unfortunate recent loss of an even longer-running community staple in Backcountry Ski & Sport.
More than just supporting specific outdoor activities, we want to be a part of an affirmative vision for the whole Roanoke community that gets as many people outside as possible. Our amazing access to nature here is such an opportunity. We want to help provide people with the skills and confidence (and, if needed, the equipment) to push their personal limits and discover the value of doing things away from screens and air conditioning.
Right now, we are focused on learning to operate the business, bringing together a new team, and keeping our heads above water. But we are definitely thinking of how best to evolve and decide where we want to put our imprint on the business – all while staying humble and most of all honoring the core purposes of the business.
3. When you have free time, what is your go-to-outdoor activity and favorite spot?
Bethany: My go-to activity is running. It’s flexible, quick and easy, which as a mom is a necessity. My favorite is a classic greenway outing, although running the Chestnut Ridge Trail is a more recent addition that I have enjoyed. But we have three kids and also love to get out together as a family. There are so many options, but I’d say Roaring Run is my current favorite.
Jeff: It is easy to overlook, but our number one outdoor activity is just being in and roaming the Wasena neighborhood as a family, whether that is gardening or going on walks or bike rides or tubing or wading in the Roanoke River. But when I’m able to get out on my own … so many choices, but right now, more than anything, I relish the ability to do a truly awesome mountain bike ride from my own house. Carvins Cove is great – my favorite is probably the descent on Buck – but having Mill Mountain adjacent to the city makes Roanoke unique. I like the challenge of trying to ride to the star and back on the most fun lines I can handle, as fast as I can safely manage, without letting my feet touch the ground. Where else can you do that?
4. Will running RMA be a full-time job, or do you still have “day jobs”?
We intend to be active with the business while continuing our preexisting undertakings. We want to serve our clients and make our own imprint; we also want to provide an opportunity for new employees and give them a chance to contribute to the scene.
Jeff is a lawyer turned baseball writer who works from home, so he likes to get off the computer and on his feet as soon as possible. He is the vice president of the Wasena Neighborhood Forum and recently joined the Mill Mountain Advisory Board.
Bethany is an educator by training who has more recently held part-time jobs and significant volunteer roles while generally taking primary responsibility for wrangling the kids and keeping the household running smoothly. Right now, she is doing coursework towards eventually becoming a school administrator while serving out her second term as the Wasena Elementary PTA president.
So far, we both have enjoyed the change of pace of being down at the shop. Involving our kids in the business has been both added fun and added challenge. Ultimately, we know we will need to be flexible and adaptive to make this work. But we trust that our intentions and hard work will shine through (as it did for our predecessors in the business) and that the community will continue to love and support the business (and vice versa).
5. If someone is considering a move to Roanoke, what would you tell them?
We came here four years ago, having previously lived in larger metropolitan areas. We found just what we were hoping to discover when we moved here: A strong and inclusive community with ready access to and respect for nature. It’s a wonderful place to raise a family, particularly if you value those things.
But we have come to find that there’s so much more to it. There are so many outlets for contributing to the greater good, including through outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship. Local institutions and small businesses are accessible and caring. There is an immense spirit of voluntarism and so many people who go above and beyond because they aren’t just content with enjoying their slice of the city … they want to improve it for everyone else.
There are definitely major challenges facing this city. But there’s also a will to acknowledge and confront those challenges head-on with positivity and collective effort. We are floored when we think about how many people and groups we’ve interacted with – organizations like Humble Hustle, Making Foundation, House of Bread, Roanoke Refugee Partnership, and LEAP, just to name a few – that are doing such amazing work.
We can’t wait to see what this city can accomplish for all of its residents over the years to come. We feel honored to play a small role. If you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and engage with the community, you’ll be handsomely rewarded … both by being a part of something bigger than yourself and by gaining unmatched access to the mountains!