Gene Taylor’s Sports in Snowmass celebrates 50 years
On a recent afternoon in a Village Mall shop, customers browsed winter merchandise and employees started up casual conversation to assist them, asking what they were looking for and making suggestions as athletes turned down a snowy mountain on the TV screens overhead.
It was just another day in Gene Taylor’s Sports, but 2020 is not just another year — the longtime Snowmass Village Mall store is celebrating 50 years of business in town, with a group of employees and local regulars who have worked in and frequented the family-run shop for decades.
“It’s great, it’s really great,” Duke Taylor, owner of Gene Taylor’s Sports in Snowmass said of celebrating 50 years.
“It’s been about the people that work here and come in here totally, people we’ve met and families we’ve known for years, their kids and now grandkids. They’re all family to us.”
Duke said he was 13 when his father, Gene, expanded his pioneering ski business with his name from Grand Junction, where he started in 1958, to Snowmass Village.
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He and his two brothers worked in their dad’s stores growing up, often traveling to Snowmass from Grand Junction to ski and work, until Duke decided to come out to work at the village shop full-time for a season when he was 23. He said he’s been here ever since.
“I swore I’d never take this as a career. I just needed a job at 23,” Duke said. “But I stayed because it’s just fun and it’s just a great place to be.”
Duke isn’t the only one who’s followed in his dad’s footsteps. He said both of his brothers run similar stores with the family name in Grand Junction and Gunnison, and that it’s an interesting business Duke feels has exposed the Taylors to a great lifestyle.
In Snowmass specifically, Duke said several of his employees have worked in the store for more than 30 years, and the store prides itself on its consistency in providing laid back, high-quality, family-like service.
“A big part of our success definitely is our people,” Duke said. “We’re really serious about the skiing, everyone here is a skier or a rider and we just strive to provide good service, a fair price and to just take care of the people.”
P.J. Smith, manager at the Snowmass store, is one of Duke’s longtime employees. Smith said he started working with Gene Taylor’s when he was 18 after moving to the village from Minnesota in 1981 and has been here ever since.
“I got this job on my second day in town,” Smith said with a smile. “Everyone loves what they’re doing here and that’s what sets us apart.”
Several of the employees in Gene Taylor’s Sports expressed similar thoughts, emphasizing the family atmosphere and quality of service year-round for skiers, snowboarders and mountain bikers.
As Gene Taylor’s Sports in Snowmass moves forward from 50, Duke said he hopes to keep the quality of service locals and visitors have come to expect up to par, and to keep going in the village as long as possible.
“There are a lot of ski shops but we’re just glad to be here, to be somewhere up here,” Duke said. “Unconsciously, we’ve stuck to what we do and we just do what we do. That’s the nucleus; we keep our professional ski tuning and take care of the people. Everything kind of revolves around that.”
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