Outdoor retailer John Nemjo expects to close next week on a 3-acre parcel that will allow him to consolidate his growing outdoor and paddlesports operations at the headwaters of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail in the Adirondack Mountains. Nemjo said the parcel along the Moose River lies between his Mountainman Outdoor Supply Co. (MOSC) and Adirondack Outdoor Center stores in Old Forge, NY. He plans to move his boat rental operation to the new plot from his current boat retail store and to erect rental cabins along what would be 1,200 contiguous feet of riverfront.

Nemjo opened Mountainman in 1993 and now claims to be the largest kayak dealer in New York. He stocks 1,000 whitewater and flat-water kayaks and canoes spanning 27 brands. MOSC also hosts the Adirondack Paddlefest, which draws thousands to Old Forge in mid-May for what is billed as the nation’s largest on-water canoe and kayak sale.
Nemjo said he closed a second paddlesports store in October as part of his expansion and consolidation. He said he envisions a scaled down version of the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. MOSC already offers 3- to 6-hour family paddling trips along the Moose River and rents space to a whitewater rafting outfit.

Nemjo said boat sales were up 30% in April and 80% in the first quarter thanks to heavy marketing. The company sends out 3 to 4 direct mail pieces a year to an in-house mailing list of 40,000 and recently hired a full-time marketing person.

“I think our growth is a combination of better and more efficient marketing not only of our business and products, but also our location, our professional staff, and the fact that we have been in business for 15 years taking care of our customers day in, day out,” Nemjo wrote in an e-mail Friday. “I think the word-of-mouth advertising is still key to our success.  We have sold over 20,000 canoes and kayaks in those 15 years in business and word gets around.  The fact that you can test paddle boats right behind our store is also key. I believe it is just a great combination of history, location, inventory and staff that makes us what we are.”

He sees tremendous potential in the Northern Forest Canoe Trail, which runs 740 miles (including 55 miles of portaging) from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine via Vermont, Quebec and New Hampshire. The trail has been promoted as a recreational resource since 2000 by former Mad River Canoe Co. principals Kay Henry and Rob Center, who have raised thousands of dollars in support from paddle sport companies. Nemjo said he recently hired former We-no-nah reps Jason and Nicki Craft to bolster his staff.

Nemjo also operates a Life is Good store in Old Forge and opened another in Saratoga Springs, NY last week.