2010 Industry Achievement Award Winner:
The Gart Family
Nate Gart and his three brothers started Gart Brothers Sporting Goods in 1928, specializing in war surplus, fishing, and hunting supplies. Nate’s son, Jerry, worked in the store as a boy and went on to open the Gart Bros Sports Castle in 1954 with everything from golf cart transportation to practice ski slopes inside. The Sports Castle became Colorado’s largest and best known sporting goods store and what the Rocky Mountain News labeled Denver’s first “big box” store. He cultivated relationships with supplier reps and principals among the top snow sports brands to get them to sell in his store.
The Garts sold their chain of sporting goods stores in 1986, but continued to be involved with it 1992. In 1994, Ken and Tom Grant launched SSV. That year, they formed the Gart Companies, which consists of a real estate branch, Gart Properties, and Specialty Sports Ventures, which combines large metropolitan Denver stores, such as Colorado Ski & Golf and Bicycle Village, with winter resort locations.
A key to SSV’s success was its venture with Vail Resorts, formed in 1998, which allowed SSV to secure key base locations and feed off other synergies. In April 2010, Vail Resorts acquired the remaining Garts’ interests. Specialty Sports Ventures (SSV) had grown into the largest ski and snowboard retailer and rental operator in the United States. With more than 120 shops, SSV generated over $100 million in annual sales by 2008. From corporate headquarters, in Denver’s Cherry Creek North neighborhood, brothers Ken, Tom and John have offices with sweeping views of the snow-capped Rockies. In those mountains, locals and tourist alike have been photographing, hiking, camping, skiing, hunting, fishing and playing for the past 80 years with equipment from Gart.