Denver Ski Shop Gets Creative With Rentals
01.25.2017 | Ski Racing Staff
NASTAR fans, if you’re looking for a cost-effective way to tune skis while traveling and you live in the Denver area, check out the two men who are changing the way ski shops do business.
With over 15 years of experience on the road servicing skis for some of the sport’s biggest names across multiple disciplines, there’s no doubt that Chris Taylor knows his trade. Lucky for traveling ski racers, he and co-owners Leif Sunde and Sam Petty are willing to share some of their finer tricks at Denver Sports Lab, a new specialty shop in Denver, Colorado.
Taylor started his career in the ski industry at Fischer where he served as race service director and product manager when ski racing athletes like Bode Miller, Thomas Vonn and Steven Nyman were first coming onto the scene. In the following years, he transitioned more towards the ski service side of the industry, with stints as an in-house service tech at Atomic and Salomon where he tuned and waxed skis for World Cup athletes and X Games medalists.
After helping set up Ski and Snowboard Club Vail’s in-house ski service, Taylor realized something that made him switch gears.
“It kind of brought to light that there was a huge missing component here in the Front Range of Colorado,” he says. “We’ve got a high density of skiers and a high density of racers, but a low density of high-quality shops in the area, and there’s only one or two that truly focus on racing and really nothing down in the Front Range.”
Seeing the potential for a race-specific shop just outside of the heart of Denver, Taylor decided it was time to make a change. He and his business partner Sunde, who comes from more of a retail background compared to Taylor’s technical knowledge, recently opened Denver Sports Lab’s doors with the hope of bringing a unique, one-of-a-kind service to the greater Denver area.
“We looked at this and asked, ‘Why do most ski shops fail?’” Taylor explains. “And we figured out that it was because of retail. We want to provide a premium service and focus on that premium service.”
Being on the road for 15 years, Taylor also empathizes with the difficulties of traveling all winter with hundreds of pounds of skis and tuning equipment. He saw yet another opportunity for a service unlike any other currently available.
“With how the travel industry has kind of structured things, it’s like a 150 bucks each way if you want to travel with a bench – a 150 if you want to travel with a toolbox,” Taylor says. “We kind of looked at that and said, ‘What if we took some of my World Cup benches and boxes and turned some of that into a rental opportunity for us?’”
Customers can rent a myriad of tuning equipment (including tuning benches, vices, waxing irons, drills and start benches) from the shop for a daily fee, which has the potential to provide programs and individuals traveling to Colorado for their annual early season training camps some significant savings in baggage fees while also limiting hassle.
Patrons have the ability to ship their skis to the shop in advance of camps for finishing tunes and can also have them shipped from the shop back home once the camp is over.
Taylor’s goal is to offer a cost-effective way to tune skis and ship them and be at a comparable price to just paying the airline fee. According to Taylor, the shop’s reach has grown and programs from all over the country have shown interest in the services.
“I still have a storage unit over in Europe and if we have people going over to Europe, you can have access to my bench over there,” he adds. “If a team is headed over and they don’t have [European] irons, I have eight Euro irons that we can rent out.”
With how different the service process can be for race skis compared to the services offered at a traditional ski shop, customer education is paramount for Taylor and his employees.
“With every new customer, we spend at least a half an hour with them walking them through the process that we go through because it is a little bit different than the normal process. We want to educate them so they are aware of what level of service they are getting for the price we are charging.”
For a full list of specific services offered, visit the Denver Sports Lab website.