Best of the Boat: Powder Tools wins best snowboard shop
Steamboat Springs — Best Snowboard Shop
1. Powder Tools
For years, Powder Tools has prided itself on being a snowboarder’s one-stop shop dream. “We’re the only full-service snowboard shop in town,” retail supervisor Allison Berger says. “We have it all — a full-service tune shop, full rental shop as well as demo and retail.”
The business went from being a tiny storefront to one of the premier shops at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. And as the brand grew, the sport’s top-level athletes took notice. Powder Tools sponsors local Olympians Arielle and Taylor Gold, as well as U.S. Snowboarding’s Matt Ladley.
“I’ve worked here since 2001 and watched our staff and store grow,” Berger says. “It’s pretty cool supporting local kids and local athletes.”
The biggest selling point for Powder Tools, she adds, is its customer service. When powder seekers peek through the shop’s long line of Burton, Salomon, K2, Never Summer and Ride products, they’re met with an eager and friendly staff there to make their stay as adventurous as possible.
“We want to be friendly and knowledgeable for anyone who comes through,” Berger says.
2. Ski Haus
About three years ago, Ski Haus started investing in its growth. That growth included a store expansion, and with it came the push for more snowboards on the floor.
It’s a local shop that prides itself on its variety and thrives in getting skiers and riders in the backcountry. About the same time as the Ski Haus expansion came the splitboard wave, a way for backcountry enthusiasts to skin up and ride down in places they never thought possible.
“What differentiates us is we’re very much a backcountry group,” snowboard manager Justin Johnson says, noting that splitboards make up about 30 percent of the shop’s snowboard inventory. “That’s one of our areas of expertise.”
When the snow starts falling and the lifts start humming, Ski Haus’ basement turns into ski and snowboard mecca, packed wall to wall with every boot, board and binding needed. And when the ground is dry, its attic across the street keeps sales pumping year round. “We stock everything you need,” Johnson says.
Powder Pursuits opened its doors 27 years ago, but even before it debuted its first digs, Chris Smith was pushing snowboards as a business — not in a designated shop but out of his Fort Lewis College dorm room.
Fast-forward three decades and Powder Pursuits has grown from the cramped dorm room into one of the best snowboard shops in town. It has grown so much that it also stocks skis on its shelves for rent.
Throughout the years, Smith says he’s earned some money and lost some, but he keeps the same attitude through it all. “It’s fun,” he says. “People who come in are happy. My mission statement is to have fun first. Just enjoy what you’re doing and love the sport.”
Smith envisions Powder Pursuits continuing its rapid growth but never plans to sell out beyond his family name. Owned by Smith and his wife, Guergana, he wants their son to one day take the helm and keep the business rolling. “I want to have a business that my son or family will run,” he says. “It’s a very local shop.”
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