By Chuck Gibson

LOVELAND, OH (June 10, 2022) – There’s a new look down by the Scenic Little Miami River in Loveland these days.

Loveland Canoe & Kayak has a great looking new covered patio area outside and a sparkling new showroom for kayak and paddle gear on the inside. The emphasis is on the word paddle. I’ll let owner Mark Bersani tell you what is happening and all about the launch last Saturday, June 4.

“Today (Saturday, June 4,) was kind of our launch for the season,” said Bersani. “We have a couple really exciting announcements to make.”

The first announcement is the new “awning” covered patio area which is now the new check-in for our rental customers. It also includes a nice retail display area for customers to see and purchase river trip essentials like sunscreen, bug spray, dry boxes to protect their phones, hats and sunglasses. They have all the types of things necessary for your trip, but often times forgotten in the haste to get on the river and have fun. Bersani also pointed out the outside check-in area under the new awning helps create a smoother flow for customers when they arrive to begin their river excursion.

New awning coverd outside check in at Loveland Paddle Sports keeps a steady flow and short line for customers (Chuck Gibson)

“Remember the old days when we had 80 people at 10-o-clock jammed in the building,” Bersani asked. “Now it just kind of steadily flows. Then, we’ve remodeled our showroom. We carry three kinds of kayaks: Crescent, Bonafide; which is our fishing specialty line, and we carry Lightning which is a new pedal line we brought in. All are U.S. made brands. They are high quality boats.”

Yes, he said pedal. It is a “very affordable” kayak with foot pedals you can pedal. Bersani says the staff is ready to help customers with any questions they may have.

Outdoor retail display offers customers all the last-minute essentials needed for their paddle on the river (Chuck Gibson)

“We have a great staff that can answer questions to help customers pick the right boat for the type of paddling they want to do whether it is lakes, rivers or fishing backwaters down in Florida,” he said. “We have a variety of different kayaks to help them have a successful day on the water.”

The face and nature of the old familiar Loveland Canoe & Kayak is certainly taking on a new look. Don’t let the changing look scare you away from that day of fun on the Scenic Little Miami River with your group of friends. Bersani says they are simply adjusting according to the way visitors want to enjoy their trip on the Little Miami from Loveland. They’ve added new Ford Transit vans replacing the old used school busses typically used to transport the customers to the launch site for their river trip.

“We purchased a couple of Ford Transit vans,” said Bersani. “They’re nice vans to load because you can actually stand up and walk through without having to bend down and crawl around the seats. They are much more comfortable, air conditioning and workable radios. We’re trying to get to the water, but in a comfortable way making it easier for people to load and unload.” 

That’s enough of burying the lead. Here is the real story of change from Mark & Robyn Bersani.

“Oh yeah, we just rebranded; this is our 19th season,” Mark Bersani said. “After 18 years, we found, about five or six years ago, a trend toward kayaking.”

The “Lightning” pedal kayak on the left along with the variety of Crescent and other kayaks now available at Lovelnad Paddle Sports in Loveland, Ohio (Chuck Gibson)

He explained customers have moved from canoeing to a preference for kayaking. The first year the percentage of customers choosing a kayak was very low. River trip rentals revealed a clear preference for canoeing. That changed.

“We went from 2% our first year, to almost 70% kayaks in 2019,” Bersani explained. “Clearly the market was saying: we enjoy these kayaks, they’re easy to paddle and fun. Our tandem kayak and our solo kayaks are much more stable and more intuitive for people to paddle.”

They have a kayak to fit Elena Bersani, all 4′-11″ of her, or even the long-legged 6′-3″ customers (Chuck Gibson)

Bersani says they’ve decided to go just kayaks. Now tandem kayaks and solo kayaks are our specialty. They feature the Jackson Riviera Kayak and Riviera Tandem Kayaks for rental trips on the river. They’ve been very popular with customers. They’re comfortable. They track well, they’re very stable and they fit a wide variety of paddlers. He said whether your 4’-11 like Elena Bersani, or 6’-3” tall, you can fit in that kayak.

“We’ve been talking about this for a long time, because there is a history here obviously,” said Bersani. “We decided to change the name to Loveland Paddle Sports. It certainly represents the community we’ve been part of for the last 18-plus years, but also represents the direction of our sport while still including part of our future. Paddle sports can encompass a lot of things.”

Going forward, they are Loveland Paddle Sports. Bersani says the new logo will look familiar, but include subtle changes representing the new way they’ll be doing business. The transition has been happening over the last three years including design of a custom kayak trailer which carries 35 kayaks. They’ve streamlined the rental experience with online pre-registration making it a much more efficient process from registration, to check in, to on the river having fun.

“With just being kayaks, instead of customers wrestling with paddles, we take all the paddles up the river on the paddle wagon – we call it the ‘paddy wagon’,” Bersani said. “It’s a simple process. They check in with their last name, we give them a PFD (Personal Flotation Device) so pretty quickly they’re heading up river and the paddles and kayaks are up there for the customer.” 

Dolph’s Dogs – hot dogs, metts and hot metts provided the food for the launch of Loveland Paddle Sport Saturday, June 4, 2022 (Chuck Gibson)

Members of the “Goon Squad” remain at the ready for customers at Loveland Paddle Sports (Chuck Gibson)

It looked like all fun during the 2022 season launch on Saturday, June 4. Dolph’s Dogs – hot dog stand was on hand with great hot dogs, metts and hot metts and all the trimmings for customer refreshment. Loveland Paddle Sports may be the new name, but the “Good Squad” is still there to get the customers on and off the river safely for a fun day of paddling.

“All they have to do is enjoy. They don’t have to work. They just have to go out and have fun.” – Mark Bersani, Owner, talking about the customer experience at Loveland Paddle Sports 

Loveland Canoe & Kayak is NOW LOVELAND PADDLE SPORTS

Loveland Paddle Sports is located alongside the Scenic Little Miami River

located at: 174 Karl Brown Way, Loveland, OH 45140 – Phone: (513) 683-4611

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