Outdoor Insight

January 2019

Issue link: https://viewer.e-digitaledition.com/i/1073724

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40 • Outdoor Insight • January 2019 outdoorinsightmag.com By Cara Griffin WHEN BRENDAN MADIGAN first began working at Tahoe City, CA, mountain shop Alpenglow Sports in 2003, he was a self-described "part-time employee and mostly full-time ski bum." He credits the influence of "legendary Alpenglow-ers" such as Dave Nettle, Aaron Zanto and Mark Kircher for teaching him "the value of pre-work dawn patrol and what it meant to live a fully realized life in the mountains." Madigan eventually moved into full-time work at the shop and then ownership in 2011 when he purchased the shop from original owner Don Fyfe. Madigan says his retail ethos centers around giving back to the mountain community that has helped the shop grow over the last 40 years. For him, community and retail are intertwined. In addition to being the owner of the shop, he is the brainchild behind more than a few high-end, large-scale experiential events in North Lake Tahoe. These include the Alpenglow Mountain Festival, the Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series, the Broken Arrow Skyrace and Afterglow, A Mountain Storytelling Podcast. Here, Madigan shares his thoughts on life, retail, the outdoor industry and how selling snow sports has its peaks and valleys. On his favorite things about being the owner of an outdoor shop… "The people, unequivocally! Working with a tight knit group to create something bigger than ourselves is the most fulfilling job I could ever ask for. It's not always easy, but the tough times bond us closer as a family and we're able to pass this familial feel on to our customers. After our team, the customers are the best part. We like to say we inspire others to do what inspires them… and have been doing so for nearly 40 years." On the challenges of retail… "To be honest I don't view anything as a challenge, outside of unpredictable weather patterns, fire and the state of the economy. We're firm believers that if we follow our hearts (and community-centric business mantra) things will always work out. Luckily we have 40 years of track record here. I think challenges have a negative connotation … but we view traditional challenges merely as opportunities in disguise." On the impact of weather on business… "Weather can influence things greatly if it doesn't snow in the winter or is smoky in the summer. The December holiday season is pretty important, as we can do 15 percent or more of our annual volume in two weeks. If there's no snow during that timeframe it can hurt. However, generally things have an odd way of working out. For instance, it can snow too much where it closes the highways and people can't get to the lake, so it's all about timing and quantity. We also carry a diverse enough product offering that if it doesn't snow we sell more running shoes and lifestyle apparel through the calendar year. And if it really snows we sell backcountry touring gear well into the summer. I believe in the yin and yang of doing retail in a mountain recreation destination." On the relationships between retailers and brands, and the big issues facing the industry… "We are drawn to brands that have an identity, are innovative, tell a story and see the value of supporting shops like ours. We think heritage shops have created the bedrock upon which the industry exists and as such place a high demand on their support. This comes primarily through financial support of events… and is reflected in our purchasing. If you are a brand aggressively selling direct to consumer or one who chooses not to support our events, we buy less from you. If you support us financially, we buy more. We also seek to do business more closely with brands that are Grassroots Outdoor Alliance Members. For retailers, I'm always brutally honest that I think there's a lot of average-at-best retail out there. I encourage people to do it for the right reasons and the rest falls into place. After your team, the customer is the single most important factor in your business and everything you do should come back to benefit them. I also think we need to do a better job of increasing diversity A Mountain Shop with Heart ALPENGLOW SPORTS, TAHOE CITY, CA GRASSROOTS P E R S P E C T I V E S

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