Well here we go again…
A week ago I was high up in the mountains camping. Today I am back in the hustle and bustle of Berkeley. Yesterday the ski shop was quiet and looked pretty much like it did in early May when I checked out for the summer. Today it is filled to the ceiling with boxes of new gear for the upcoming ski season. Such is the nature of August for me and for the shop. After a long time of relaxing with very little going on, it all changes overnight. I find myself shifting gears very quickly. It is a very familiar change at this point. It has become a yearly event like leaves turning colors. Remember when you were a kid and by the end of school you were bursting at the seams for the summer vacation to start? And then by the end of summer you felt the same way about school starting? That’s a bit like I feel about work. I get the summer off and I really look forward to it. Then I get to work during the winter and I love that too. I suppose that I am very lucky. I get to go back and forth. Each helping me to appreciate the other. Life is good.
So what is going on at a ski shop in August? Two things are going on. As I said, the new 2017/18 product is all showing up this month. Every day is Christmas! The other thing is that we are prepping for our big Parking Lot sale starting in a few weeks. That is also a bit like Christmas – at least the crowds in the shop during the sale remind me of December.
To get ready for the sale we need to take in all the product. We price it. We display it. We oogle it. Actually we oogle it a lot. And who wouldn’t? A Giro helmet with a visor built in? That is super cool! A Uvex goggle that changes tint when you press a button? Also super cool! And that is just from the first day!
Even better than cool gear is that I get to see the whole staff again. I have little contact with the team over the summer for the most part. Now it is reunion time which I love. Today we decided we needed to have an staff event. We were thinking about a BBQ after the first sale day over at the Flad family mansion.
The Flad family mansion. How great is that? Pretty great I think! It is great to me because of what it represents. Erle Flad has worked at the ski shop for over 10 years now I believe. He also ski patrols at Dodge Ridge. In addition to his ski stuff Erle is an excellent golfer, a wine connoisseur, a smooth jazz expert, a huge patron of the arts and a totally cool dude. Erle’s wife Pinke is a great skier, a greater tennis player, an even greater (and classically trained) cook and is every bit the cool dude that Erle is (but much prettier). Over the years Erle and Pinkie took the time to have three children. All three Flad children had successful ski racing careers. One is still coaching skiing. Another is a sales rep in the outdoor industry. The third will also surely go on to great things when she moves into her professional life after school. All three kids are “Flad to the bone” and have been around the shop long enough that we feel like we have watched them all grow up. Actually I guess we have. And that is why a party at Flad family mansion is so great.
That is part of the beauty of this place for me.
I have owned this place for over 15 years now but am still only a small part of the legacy. Martin Sulser will always be an idol to me. He started in the industry the year I was born. Barb just started here last fall- her previous careers were as an engineer and as a housewife- but her boot fitting accuracy blows my mind. Martin and Barb are both equally important to the shop. Equal parts of the family.
Even more folks will check in during the actual sale dates. Lot’s of regular customers will check in during the sale. Many will just want to chat and get their early season ski stoke going. That is always cool. Many employees that have not “worked” here in over 10 years will come by to say “Hi!” during the sale. Also very cool. The previous owner will come by. Our landlord will come by. Joe, our landlord, actually started the ski shop in the 80’s to fill the lull in his wind surfer business. The guy who does the building maintenance will stop in. Our neighbors at Royal Robbins will come by to see us. Russell of Kassman Fine Piano fame from next door will be part of the weekend.
And all the key Characters in our little world will be back in one place. Old timer employees like Aunt B (Benelia), and Erle, as well as Newbies Mad Dog (Jeff) and Roger who just started last year. Christian Naple who met his wife fitting her boots years ago will work the sale as well as Christian Davidson who starts college this fall. Christian Davidson joined the Family when he became a sponsored racer at about 12 years old. Now he is off to college after becoming an employee- wow. Christian Naple now has three kids now that are almost old enough to be sponsored racers. I still remember that day when he boot fit his wife Heather. Martin is in his 80’s and Sam is just getting into his teens. Kim is older than 28 and her son works here too. Kim got the job because her cousin does our printing. Her cousins husband was a boot fitter here for abut 10 years. We run the gamut. We really seem to have little in common at first glance. But we love the same things. We love to ski. We love to sell skis. We love to hang out together. And we love being part of this big ski family. And in the next few weeks this all starts to happen again- one more time…
We hope to see you at the sale. Or stop by any time. Anyone is welcome.