After 32 years, manager of Gorsuch in Snowmass retires
After 30-plus years as manager of the Gorsuch store in Snowmass, Inger Gernon knows ski fashion.
She also knows the faces of a lot of customers, fellow Snowmass businesspeople, and friends she’s made over the years.
Gernon was hired to manage Stein’s Little Shop on the Snowmass Village Mall in 1983. Living in Wisconsin then, Gernon, who had grown up in Colorado Springs and who had taught skiing in Aspen previously, and her husband were back in Aspen visiting friends when someone encouraged her to interview for the position. Missing Aspen and excited about the idea of the job, Gernon and her husband quickly packed up and returned to ski life.
“Everyone who leaves here, you realize you miss your friends,” said Gernon, who recently reitred. “We just kind of dropped everything, left the house, two horses. We rented the place out and found somebody to take care of the animals.”
Stein Eriksen was already a legend by that time, and his legacy carried on in the Snowmass ski school that he started and staffed with European instructors who followed him from Sugarbush, Vermont. When he owned the shop in Snowmass, he would regularly return to the village in the spring, bringing aquavit to share and organizing ski races with the instructors. Gernon would keep score.
“For a while we were serious about it,” she said. “If you won a certain number of races, we had this trophy and your name would be engraved.”
The instructors all wore the traditional Norwegian sweaters that Stein helped make famous and that the shop always carried.
Gernon did the buying for Stein’s Little Shop. Eriksen would take the buyers from all his stores to ski fashion events in Las Vegas and give them money to gamble; for summer clothing they would take trips to Los Angeles and Dallas.
Eriksen couldn’t go 2 feet without being stopped by someone who knew him, Gernon said. When he would visit the Snowmass store, word would travel, and people he had taught years ago would come to see him, she said.
“He is such a good ambassador for the sport — and such a snazzy dresser,” Gernon said. “It was a privilege to work for him.”
The Gorsuch family has also long been in the ski clothing business, carrying similar merchandise — like the Bogner line — to Stein Eriksen’s stores. In 2011 when Eriksen was ready to close the store, it made sense for the company to buy and expand it.
Gorsuch kept Gernon and some other tenured staff people on. The store is the type of place where salespeople get to know their customers well — after all, as Gernon put it, buying a ski coat takes more time and thought than other purchases.
“I’ve watched their kids grow up,” she said of her repeat customers. “It’s a wonderful tradition (to come back to Snowmass) for the people who learn to ski here. They just love this mountain.”
But Gernon, 68, has decided it’s time to cut back. She retired as store manager this fall.
“All of us at Gorsuch are very grateful to Inger for her service and her loyalty and have nothing but respect for her and the legacy of the store in Snowmass that she has been part of for so many years,” said co-owner Jeff Gorsuch.
She isn’t gone for good, though: she and her husband live in Basalt, and Gernon will still work some shifts in the store this winter.
“I just go with the building,” she joked.
Dottie Wolcott, office manager at The Aspen Times, used to work for Stein Eriksen and hired Gernon to run the Snowmass store.
“One could not ask for a more exemplary employee,” Wolcott said. “Inger was loyal, smart, trustworthy, enjoyable, fun and such a hard worker. For her to last 32 years in the same job is a tribute to the kind of person she is.”
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