The entrepreneurial spirit courses through the town of Ellicottville like snowmelt runoff in the majestic Allegheny River. Without that additional water flow the river wouldn’t be nearly as strong. And without its hard working, driven business owners neither would Ellicottville. Owning a business is by no means an easy undertaking, but as Ellicottville has evolved into a year-round destination it has opened up more doors for progressive people to take a chance at showcasing their hard working abilities. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about the service industry, recreation, or retail; the mindset is generally all the same - make it or break it.
Back in 1984 when Mike and Jodie Timkey started Alpine Ski Rental, Mike spent the summers working construction to help make ends meet. At the time Alpine had 50 pairs of rental skis, the Timkey’s children, Samantha and Spencer, were not even in the picture yet, and The Boardroom was over a decade away from even being conceived because snowboarding wasn’t even a blip on the Ellicottville radar. Today, Sam and Spencer help run the shop, which now bolsters approximately 200 pairs of rental skis and snowboards, an incredible selection of soft goods and a growing family of personable beagles.
It goes without saying that any snowboard shop has more or less seasonal earning potential. But with more and more people coming to Ellicottville during the summertime, Spencer Timkey saw an opportunity to build on the success that his father started over 32 years ago.
This summer Spencer, along with his friend Tyler Burns and the blessing of Mike and Jodie, will be opening Ellicottville Bike Rentals (EBR). Operating out of The Boardroom location, Ellicottville Bike Rentals will offer up Electra cruisers (www.electrabike.com) with a product line for both adults and kids as well as pull-behind trailers for the really little kids.
“We’re going to see where this goes, but Tyler and I think that town could definitely support a full-fledged bike store, complete with service, rentals and retail,” stated Timkey. “In five years, I’d love to have cruiser and mountain bike rentals, retail, helmets, sunglasses, etc. Take the retail operation we run at The Boardroom and insert bikes for snowboards, and that’s where I think we’d love to see it go.”
Over the years road bike enthusiasts and mountain bike lovers alike have flocked to Ellicottville, in part because of the diverse landscape the area provides. The cruiser bike phenomenon however, more prevalent in larger urban areas, has only recently hit Ellicottville. And with the village itself being relatively flat, it’s almost a surprise it didn’t take on popularity sooner.
“Personally, I don’t mountain bike (too much love for the golf course), but I’ve got a cruiser that I love to bomb around town on,” said Timkey. “Tyler is more of the mountain biker, but he loves cruising just as much as I do. That’s the beauty of what we’re doing - everyone knows how to ride a bike, but not everyone may want to go for a mountain/road bike ride if they’re here on vacation or for the weekend. If I was in a sweet resort town like Ellicottville with a bunch of my bros, I’d love to rent a bike for a few hours and just cruise around. That’s who we’re aiming to get into the store.”
As with any venture, timing is everything and it is clear that Timkey believes this is a great time to get in on the ground floor of something that has tremendous upside. He discussed at length the fact that Ellicottville’s summer business over the past half-decade has taken on a personality of its own and that each year the town becomes more and more of a year-round destination for travelers. And the fact that Holiday Valley has over 50 weddings booked for the upcoming summer/fall period, which combined with its Adventure Park, Mountain Coaster, golf and various conferences has allowed an even more diverse selection of people to explore the many fun opportunities the area has to offer.
Timkey went on to say, “The Valley has been so good to the town and area as a whole, and the mountain bike push just kind of solidifies that. Mike (Nenno, of HV Mountain Ops) took me up on the hill a couple weeks ago to take a peek at the new flow trail, and it’s going to be really awesome. If they keep adding trails, EBR will grow with them. I know guys from our area that will drive the 4.5 hours to Windham’s Bike Park three to four times a summer. If we had something like that here, I think it would absolutely crush it. So that remains to be seen … but for summer #1, we’re keeping EBR to cruisers. With the number of people the resort draws and how many people stay at the compound, we think we can really capitalize on folks looking for different things to do.”
As of the writing of this article Timkey and Burns were still working on establishing the hours that EBR will be open and the pricing for rentals. The plan is to have the shop open Friday through Sunday with the potential for additional weekday additions as summer begins to ramp up. Timkey would like to keep the shop open for as long as the WNY weather cooperates and then when that famous winter chill begins to cascade over the hilltops, the family will start to switch the shop back over to its normal winter routine.
When it comes to the setup of the shop, Timkey definitely seems to think it best not to reinvent the wheel. After all, why not stick with what you know. “We’re closing a couple of sections off, because we don’t need all of the space. While I’m more prone to have Johnny Cash Pandora on, Tyler goes more the alternative route. But the same vibe we have during the winter is what we’re going for. Tons of High 5’s, awesome brands (we’ll have a full complement of Oakley sunglasses, Stance socks, Outdoor Tech speakers, GoPro cameras, etc.) and good vibes all around.”
The next time you’re in town and staying at Holiday Valley, take a walk down to The Boardroom and check out the EBR setup. Rent a bike and cruise into town with your family or friends for a bite to eat and a cool summer beverage. Also make sure to follow the shop on its two social media channels. You can find it on Facebook at Ellicottville Bike Rentals and on Instagram @ellicottvillebikerentals.