Retail Profiles: Colorado Boarder

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Colorado Boarder
Crested Butte, CO
Mountaineer Sq
(970) 349-9828?

Located in the remote mountain town of Mt. Crested Butte, Colorado Boarder may seem an unlikely candidate to be shaping the face of e-commerce in action sports. However, despite its small town surroundings, its owners have used their business acumen, grasp of the power of e-commerce, and dedication to skateboarding and snowboarding to develop an outsized influence on the state of the boardsports retail playing field.

We caught up with co-owner Jake Parr at Colorado Boarder's ride in/ride out 3,600 square foot warehouse/office, situated just feet from their new 3,000 square foot Mountaineer Square shop and the mountain's base area and lifts.

Tell me about your shop's history.

This is our 22nd year. It's been around since 1987. Seth Wienner founded it with a guy named Jim down in Gunnson. They spent six months down there and then moved up to Mount Crested Butte, where it was in the same location for 18 years. We just recently moved into a brand new building Mountaineer Square. Dave [White] and I actually started a shop in the town of Crested Butte called the Air up the There. Our interest was skateboarding. We bought the Boarder in 2000. When the Internet got going, we started the dotcom. We did a run with Burton on the links for the last eight years, which made everybody approach us about links, like Volcom, so we have all these P2P links going. We're not moving forward with the links due to the orders we need to put to maintain them, but they helped get things going.

It's really cool; Dave and me took over at the right time. We went from being outlaws to gold medalists as a sport when we took over. Since then Crested Butte Mountain Resort approached us to go from the back room to right up front. (Prior to the move, the shop was located in a tucked away, older building off the Village's beaten path)

It's always been a good partnership with the mountain. I'm a big fan of Ethan Moller, the President here, he's real similar to me and Dave in age, actually I think he's a few years younger. You see him in the pipe and he's getting out on both sides, he loves to ride. I think that's been a great part of the Mollers taking over the mountain. He had his kids recently and so have I. I feel like we're going to take this career run with those guys and we're in a good place with them.

The office.
What are the most important things for your success in a resort setting?

I think it's service. Everything we can do to service the customer. Trying to improve the customer experience. There are so many hassles like parking so far away and walking with all your crap. We're very service oriented. Making sure that every rental we put out, they understand that they can bring their board back and pick it up in the morning, no hassles. We always recommend tunes to customers.

Do you train your staff or look for specific traits in new hires?

We have trained them. Whenever we make a new product move we'll train them. We have our Monday morning meetings. Our local Burton rep, John Damiano, he and his crew are always super good to us as far as keeping our ear to the pulse of what other shops are doing.

What strategies are you using to capitalize on your location?

For the first time, we're going to offer ski rentals next season. With that location that we have, we're just not capturing that customer experience. Imagine going down to Costa Rica and you're like, 'alright kids, you're going to go over to the cool boogie board shop to get your stuff and me and mom are gonna go over to this other spot to get our surfboards.'  We're going to really try and capture that for people and meet all of their needs. Being located right next to the lift ticket office, we have tourists who just fall into our door, and we can help him pick up random stuff. Everybody needs gloves, pants, sunscreen, you know?

Are you going to carry more ski type brands then?

We're hoping with our background to capitalize on bringing the snowboard market closer to the ski market. My plan is to sell more Celtek gloves and more Burton gloves to skiers. They're just as competitive as any glove company out there. When I think about that ski rental customer I think gloves, I think sunscreen, I think lip balm, just all the stuff they need to be on the mountain that day.

Making sure they're aware of all the incidentals?

Yeah, like DaKine really fills that niche as a brand that fits between ski and snowboard. That's our number two glove brand. Then I think about the water packs you're going to sell that customer. Pulling in the North Face and brands like Mountain Hardwear that that customer relates to.

On the Internet – what's most important for you as the model is changing/developing?

I think the thing we need to focus on is branding ourselves. We spent so many years buying products from our vendors for gifts to give out with purchases. We used to buy Burton videos for a dollar a copy, which was a really cool gift for the customers that we ship to, but this last year we made our own team rider video that we built the graphics on, so every time a customer opens up their box, after ordering over $50, they get a free DVD. We're taking all that money that we were spending and putting it into branding ourselves. For next year there will be footage of the team in local events like The Masters.

What has been your best selling category this year?

Mens snowboards. We are a true snowboard shop, where people really come to buy snowboards, where they use them.  This has always been our best category. Burton is the best selling brand because they have the most boards to choose from. Lib-tech was a close second because of the Banana with Magnetraction craze. I think the surge of boards we sold this last month [February] was because all the product in the market place has forced us to be at deep discounts and more competitive.

What has been the hottest SKU?

Skate Banana had the highest amount of SKU’s sold. People are just digging that Mag with Banana. Everyone wants one, or at least has lots of questions about it.