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Jul
18
2024
Business

Following a grand opening on Wednesday, July 10, area residents and globetrotting couple Dani and Mike Mortell — along with their pooch, Granger — will be the owners of Yellow Springs’ newest business: Nook Overland, a camper dealership located in the Millworks Business Center, 305 N. Walnut St., Building H. Nook’s Scout-brand campers can be affixed to the back of trucks and provide travelers with some rugged comfort on and off the beaten path. Camper prices start at $16,000. (Photo by Reilly Dixon)

Nook Overland sets up camp in Yellow Springs

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Appealing to the outdoorsy spirit of Yellow Springs and its wayfaring inhabitants is the village’s newest business: Nook Overland, a camper dealership located in the Millworks Business Center.

After its grand opening Wednesday, July 10, Nook Overland will sell rugged, modular campers that can be affixed to the beds of mid-sized trucks, for those travelers who don’t want a massive RV, but still crave more comfort than a tent on their next adventure.

Nook is owned by globetrotting couple Mike and Dani Mortell, who recently halted their many consecutive years of far-flung roving to move to the area and set up their dealership in the village.

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“We’ve been all over,” Mike Mortell told the News last week. “But here, now, Yellow Springs is the right place for us. We’re happy to have this as our home base.”

“And that’s something we’ve really been missing,” his wife, Dani Mortell, agreed. “When you travel, you don’t often get to engage with or contribute to a community, and that’s just what we want to do in this cool, little town.”

Nook’s operations will be housed in a 5,000-square-foot warehouse at Millworks, just steps away from Yellow Springs Brewery and YS Home, Inc.’s offices. According to the Mortells, their new space will soon be divided in two: One half will be for retail, resembling a traditional car dealership, but instead with several of their truck-bed campers on display. The other half will be for servicing — a space for Mike Mortell to work on, service and customize his customers’ campers.

“We’ll be a full-service dealership,” Mike Mortell explained. “So, even if someone bought one of these campers from another place and they’re traveling through with some problems, we’ll work on it. Even if someone who lives in a custom van needs help installing an air conditioner, we can do that, too. Any kind of customization, really.”

Selling new Scout-brand models made by Adventurer Manufacturing of Washington state, Nook Overland is one of the only dealerships of its kind in the Midwest, with the nearest two in New Hampshire and Colorado. So, as the Mortells suggested, folks will flock from far and wide to Yellow Springs.

“Part of what we want to do, when people travel to see these campers, is encourage them to get out and explore the rest of Yellow Springs — to go camp at John Bryan, even,” Dani Mortell said. “We want to play up this town — maybe buy them a coffee at Dino’s, get them a beer at the brewery on us.”

Starting a new business is just the latest adventure for the couple. Their lives have been colored by wanderlust. Mike grew up as a self-described “missionary kid,” spending much of his childhood in Kenya and Uganda. For Dani’s part, she conducted field research in Senegal while she was in college. They later landed in the tech industry, met in Atlanta and quickly bonded over a shared passion for travel; just three months after getting together, they were in France. By month six, they were atop a mountain in Nepal.

“We moved pretty fast,” Dani Mortell laughed.

“Right,” Mike Mortell added. “Traveling is normal for us. We’re not used to being in one place for very long.”

For the last four years, the pair spent most of their days in their own Scout camper, traveling up and down, back and forth across the North American continent — starting at the northernmost part of Alaska, winding their way down through Mexico and Guatemala.

“So, we’re really passionate about this,” Mike Mortell said. “We’ve owned our camper for four years, and have lived in it for two straight years. We’ve had a lot of nights, traveled a lot of miles and met a lot of people in this camper — we’ve put it through the test and believe in its quality.”

Rather than continuing south on their pan-American journey, the couple returned stateside in favor of stability and in the interest of health; Dani Mortell has been suffering lingering effects of long-COVID for several years now. Still, launching Nook Overland has been a journey in itself.

“This is a way for us to share the joy and our love of travel with others,” Dani Mortell said. “We want to inspire people to get out and explore more — to adventure in backyards and beyond.”

As they suggested, investing in a Scout-brand camper, affixing it to a truck bed and hitting the road can allow others to do just that.

Depending on the model, the Mortells’ campers can accommodate families of five; have built-in power systems, kitchenettes and showers; and are both lightweight and durable enough to go off the beaten path. According to Mike Mortell, prices range from $16,000 to around $40,000 for fancier campers. They can be outfitted to any degree for off-the-grid living, and, as the Mortells said, provide a home-like “nook” for travelers — even in extreme and remote places, far from their new Yellow Springs headquarters.

Nook Overland is located at 305 N. Walnut St., Building H, and can be reached at 937-483-6503. To learn more about the business and to browse its Scout camper offerings, go to http://www.nookoverland.com. Read about the couple’s past travels at their blog, http://www.themortells.com.

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