GET “BOARD” AT COLDEN SKI & BOARD SHOP — Owner Janet Dillsworth shows off one of the new Never Summer® boards her shop carries. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
COLDEN — At Colden Ski & Board Shop, getting outfitted for winter sports does not have to break the bank. Owner Janet Dillsworth opened her shop on Sept. 8 and said that she is already helping local skiers, snowboarders and outdoor enthusiasts kick off the season in style.
The business, which is located on Route 240 in Colden, has been selling skiing and snowboarding equipment and accessories for the past 16 years and Dillsworth said the business keeps growing. Her husband and four sons have helped her out, over the years, as have her nephews.
“We have some customers who have been with us the entire time, who have watched the business grow and the kids with it,” Dillsworth said. She noted that she has good relationships with a lot of regulars, including local ski clubs like the Buffalo Ski Club, that have relied on her store for their snow sporting outfits, year after year.
In addition to selling skis, snowboards, helmets, jackets, pants, goggles and associated equipment, Dillsworth’s store leases to more than 500 customers, each season. Renting the equipment, she explained, is an affordable option for all skiers, especially children.
“It’s great for kids, because then you don’t have the expense of replacing [the equipment] as they grow,” she explained. “And if the kids’ boots are getting a little snug during the season, they can bring them back and we can fix them up with new ones. It’s also good for ski clubs because, that way, the kids don’t have to stand in line with hundreds of other kids when they get [to the hill].”
The ski shop replaces approximately 25 percent of its leased equipment stock every year, which Dillsworth said allows her to offer the latest styles and types, including twin-tip skis and some brands that are popular out West, but have not caught on here, yet. Two of those are Never Summer® boards and Rocky Mountain Underground® skis, which Dillsworth said are both handmade in small factories in Colorado. Colden Ski & Board Shop was the first in the area to sell those brands. Dillsworth said that she makes an effort to support smaller, independent businesses like those.
“We stopped stocking the K2 skis because [their production] got too big; too crazy. We’re still working on helping those take off. It’s hard thinking outside the box, but we try to stay on top of what’s new and fresh.”
Although the Colden shop is a smaller one than some of the big-box outfitters, Dillsworth said that she encourages customers to come to her, not only for personal attention but because of quality and price, as well.
“People think that they have to go all the way to Dick’s to get a good deal, but we’re right here. If there’s a problem with your equipment and you got it here, you don’t have to go far to get it checked out. A lot of times, people get down here and come in saying, ‘I forgot my gloves’ and we can fix them up,” she explained. “I’m a shopper. I think our prices are competitive and we tell people that you don’t have to buy the top-of-the-line to get good gear. It can really be a very affordable sport.”
She pointed out that there is a balance to be struck between price and quality, however.
“It’s so important to stay warm and dry. If you go to Target or Wal-Mart, some of those types of places, you’re not going to get the quality and then you’re going to get wet,” she said, pointing out several jackets and snowsuits she has in stock. “People say it’s so expensive to ski and it’s not really the case. There are so many deals to be had; you just have to look around to find them.”
One place she does not recommend customers look for those deals is online.
“I hate to see people come in who think they got a great deal and then they have equipment that isn’t right for them,” she said. “Unless you really know what you’re doing, I don’t recommend that. You can really mess up. I always say, come in, talk to somebody and we can make sure you’ve got what you need.”
In addition to skis and snowboards, the Colden Ski & Board Shop also sells and rents snowshoes and cross-country skis, which Dillsworth called an “affordable and fun winter activity for anyone who isn’t into downhill sports.
“We have so many great places to [go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing] around here, like Sprague Brook Park,” she added.
Although last season was quiet because of the mild weather, Dillsworth said that she expects a busy upcoming winter. A number of customers have already come in to secure their rentals for the upcoming season and she said that, in general, the newest equipment is already leased by October or November.
“We’ve got deals on right now that you’re not going to see again,” she said. “Don’t wait until December and have to pick through the leftovers. It’s first-come, first-serve.”
She said the Sept. 8 opening date got people excited for the season and helped generate income for her, as well. Some people come rent daily, especially visitors from out-of-town, but the shop relies mostly on retail and season leasing. More than anything else though, Dillsworth said her business depends on nature.
“We try to just roll with it and see what happens,” she said, of the winter forecast. “We took a big hit with [the lack of snow] Christmas week, last year. You can’t recoup that. You can’t make it snow. We do our best and hope for the best.”
Colden Ski & Board Shop is located at 8843 State Road in Colden. For hours, merchandise, lease prices and more information, the business can be reached at 941-5232 or online at www.coldenskiandboard.com.