Meet Your Merchant: Longtime Tahoe ski shop optimistic about snow
Special to the Bonanza
What: Village Ski Loft
Location: 800 Tahoe Blvd.
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Darren Springer owns four bikes and eight pairs of skis. The outdoorsman said he has devoted a room in his house for all of his gear, dubbed “the Superman room.”
Meanwhile, Aaron “Elko” James said he has four bikes at home and as for skis, “only about six right now.”
Both men have worked at Village Ski Loft for about 15 years and are outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy helping people get the gear to have fun.
“We’re doing what we do best,” Springer said, “selling boots, selling gear, selling fun … It’s a giant toy store that we work in, really.”
The store manager compared selling skis, boots and bikes to selling lumber, refrigerators or car parts — boot fitting and bike repair puts a smile on people’s faces and helps people get outside.
“People come here because they want to have fun; they want to buy the tools necessary to have fun,” Springer said.
BEYOND BOOTS AND SKIS
Village Ski Loft began as a ski shop in 1974, and current owner Steve Hand has helped make the shop more than just skis, boots and poles.
The store has an extensive in-store selection and carries the top bike brands of Trek, Specialized and Santa Cruz.
“We have bikes for everybody, from kids just learning to walk to road bikes, mountain bikes, hybrids, cruisers,” said Springer.
And because so many of the employees are bike enthusiasts themselves, updated trail knowledge is easy to come by.
“Everybody that works here plays with our toys,” Springer said. “I’m not going to say that it’s required, but I don’t know why you would want to work here if you didn’t, if you weren’t either a cyclist a snowboarder or a skier.”
‘WHATEVER IT TAKES’
Although others talk of the lack of snow, Springer is skiing at Mount Rose or Diamond Peak whenever he’s not at the shop.
“Skiers will do whatever it takes to go skiing,” he said. “If you’re a skier, if you’ve got the bug, if you’re addicted — you’re going to go skiing and make the best of it.”
Springer recalls being a student at University of North Texas and driving to Colorado to ski, sleeping in his car or a garage, doing whatever it took to get on the mountain.
“I don’t think that’s changed,” he said of the skier mentality. “We still have core skiers coming in every day.”
Thus far, weather has not affected the business at Village Ski Loft, Darren said. Holiday weekends have been busy and the shop looks forward to tourists on Presidents Day weekend.
“People are still going to come up to ski — they might just bring their bikes with them,” Springer said with a laugh.
A PLACE TO HANG
Locals frequent Village Ski Loft for the latest gear and needed repairs and also just to hang out.
Over the last few years, Incline local Connor McCune has bought 2 bikes and a pair of skis from the guys at Village Ski Loft.
“I usually go in there and make an excuse to myself to look at gear and to talk to the guys,” McCune said. “I’ve had a lot of great advice on gear from those guys. I trust them — they’re all great mechanics.”
Children ski programs bring families into the shop for gear and end up staying and hanging out at the shop too, Springer said.
“This is a great place to hang out, it’s a very casual atmosphere,” he said. “It’s kid-friendly, and there’s always new product coming in the door that people are interested in.”
Local business owner Lin Pruett bought goggles at Village Ski Loft a few weeks ago.
Pruett said she supports the shop because she feels it’s important to support local businesses in Incline.
“I like to shop local and give back to small businesses rather than go to Scheels,” she said.
Village Ski Loft is open daily. Winter hours, starting Feb. 15, will extend from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The whole staff encourages customer, whether skiers, cyclists, disc golfers, beach goers or dog owners, to get outside.
“With the weather we have, albeit it’s not snowing, but it’s beautiful,” said Springer. “So go outside, go play!”
Jenny Luna is a freelance reporter for the North Lake Tahoe Bonanza and Sierra Sun newspapers. She may be reached at email@example.com.