Standing at the top of this thing, board in hand, it almost looks like you’re about to drop into a half pipe except for all the water shooting up at you.
“Just drop in and then lean back,” the employee on duty yells as he holds your board in place at the lip so the water doesn’t fling it against the wall behind. “Seriously, lean back all the way.”
It might be easier to listen if there wasn’t a mall full of people staring at you from outside this huge box. No use worrying about your pride though, because like the sign said as you were climbing the steps into the Flowrider, “You Will Fall.”
You might’ve seen the Flowrider before in places like water parks or cruise ships. A thin sheet of water is shot from the bottom of the machine up a foam ramp shaped like a wave, so riders can surf or body board up, down and all over a permanent wave that never breaks. But until November 2006, when owner Jeffrey Geller opened up his Adrenalina store in Orlando’s Florida Mall, a Flowrider had never been installed indoors.
“Our company was started by Zalman Lekach and myself,” says Geller, “and our show (also called Adrenalina) is on FUEL in English and Fox Sports in Spanish. When we decided to open a store, Zalman said the key was we definitely had to have a bigger attraction.”
Upon entering Adenalina, there’s no doubt that the Flowrider is an attraction. Taking up most of the left half of the store, it’s housed in a huge clear plastic room for the entire mall to see. The rest of the store sells equipment for most every action sport, including BMX, surf, skate, and most notably wake.
“We put it in to get people active and in the store,” Geller says. “It’s addictive for thoose that are in there, and people in the store just have to watch. Coming into the store should be an experience”
Costing about a million dollars to install, the Flowrider has already paid off. It’s a little weird, Geller says, to see people walking through the mall and into the store with board shorts in hand, or better yet buying a pair just so they can jump in the Flowrider. People come in to ride or watch and they end up buying a new board or other piece of equipment. Then they come back again. And the Flowrider is the hook that keeps people coming, many of whom might not step foot in a mall otherwise.
“We’re the thorn in the side of the mall,” Geller says. “It’s so antiestablishment.”
The Florida Mall’s Adrenalina was the first to open, but another is set to open in Miami this summer. Geller hopes to have 10 stores across the country in the next few years.
“In the end, those that try it just want more,” said Geller. “At first they say ‘That’s so hard’ but that afternoon they’re talking about how they have to come back.” — Mike Tyler
For more info, check out adrenalinastore.com.