2012 US Retailer Of The Year
Ski Barn - Paramus, NJ
The Ski Barn is a family business that was born of a need within our family and has grown as a result of the service we have provided to families.
Our family business has owners spanning three generations, supported by employees spanning three generations, serving customers spanning three generations.
Here is our story:
The original Ski Barn opened its doors in 1971 and my parents had a secret that they didn’t often share in those early days. Neither Mom nor Dad had ever skied. Ski Barn wasn’t founded by world-class skiers; it was founded by world-class listeners.
The story began in December 1969 as our family set out on a shopping trip. My four siblings and I were tingling with excitement in the back of the station wagon because my parents promised they would buy each of us skis for Christmas. We had started skiing with a program at school and had been borrowing skis. We made several stops on our trip and my parents were shocked at the terrible service they received. When they asked for help, they were told, “The kids’ skis are on the wall over there.” That was it!
In 1969, it was difficult to buy any ski equipment for your children; it was impossible to have confidence that you were getting the best and safest equipment for them. On the ride home, a light bulb went off in Dad’s head, “If it’s difficult for me to buy skis for my children, then there must be thousands of families in New Jersey with the exact same problem.” With excitement in his voice, he asked, “Who wants to go into the ski business?” All five children cheered in unison from the back seat.
That winter evening in that old station wagon, the first executive board meeting of Ski Barn was held.
My parents were devoted to providing for their children. My Dad had a small construction company and tirelessly worked installing attic fans. Mom was a full-time stay-at-home mom. I’ll never know where she got the energy to keep up with five children during those years.
With the idea for a ski shop, my parents began with the same enthusiasm and conviction that they demonstrated to us everyday in everything they did. They embarked on a journey of discovery to learn everything they needed to do to be successful in the ski business. Mom and Dad traveled thousands of miles visiting America’s most successful ski shops. They asked questions and they listened to these more experienced entrepreneurs.
When they started Ski Barn, they added their own secret ingredient.
Most ski shops catered to advanced and expert skiers. My parents believed their ski shop could be successful if they catered to families. In other words, our family set up shop to take care of skiing families. This concept was brand new.
And here is where my parents' secret ingredient came in: Every year a child needs a bigger set of skis and larger ski boots. Of course, the same is true for shoes, but ski equipment is much more expensive. They decided rather than focusing on selling kids new skis every year, they would lease them equipment for the season. Many in the industry told my parents that the idea would not be profitable. But, it was! My parent’s secret ingredient transformed skiing into a family-friendly sport that was also affordable.
This “Leasing Program” has proved to be a core factor that drives our business to this day. This year we had over 17,000 customers in the program in our four locations. Similar leasing programs have been adopted around the country and throughout the industry.
Giving families “more-than-expected” has been one of the cornerstones of our family business.
What sets Ski Barn apart is stated in the tag line of our advertisements - Ski Barn: The Goods, The People, The Passion. It has been Ski Barn’s policy from day one, to deliver more-than-expected customer service.