Meet Your Merchant: Cameron Wenzel, Snowmass Sports
For this month’s Meet Your Merchant, we talked with Cameron Wenzel, manager of Snowmass Sports, his family’s longtime village ski and outdoor sports shop:
Snowmass Sun: How long have you been working with Snowmass Sports?
Cameron Wenzel: So I graduated from college about 15 years ago and I’ve been with Snowmass Sports for most of that time. I also work in the real estate industry so I did a year at a real estate office and then spent some time working in Chicago and other than that I’ve been here that whole time.
SS: And are you from Snowmass?
CW: I was born and raised here, yes.
SS: Did you ever think you would come back here, live here and run a ski shop?
CW: When I graduated from college I had jobs on the east coast, I went to college at Clemson University, and I had jobs in a few different cities in South Carolina and Snowmass Sports is a family-run business, my dad started it, and he said why don’t you come back and work for the winter, because I graduated after a fall semester in December, so it was a pretty easy choice to come back and work.
My plan was really only to work for one season and here we are 15 years later and I’m still doing it. I love it, I’m happy to go to work everyday and to get to share that passion of skiing with my staff and clients. I love skiing and the outdoors and it’s amazing to be able to live here and be able to share that on a daily basis.
SS: That’s so cool. What was it like growing up with your dad running the ski shop and having this family business? How do you think that influenced you?
CW: You know, we definitely have business acumen in the family. My dad is an entrepreneur, he moved here and just saw opportunities and his timing was good. As far as influenced me, not a lot of the kids that grew up here come back and I think part of the reason is it’s hard to carve out an opportunity unless you’re a working professional, maybe you’re a doctor or a lawyer or an architect. It’s an expensive place to live so for me to have an opportunity to come back here and live has been great.
I would also say it’s influenced me to just have great hospitality, that’s really what it’s about at Snowmass Sports: customer service and hospitality, really taking care of people and setting ourselves a part by treating people really well.
SS: How long has your family had this location?
CW: My dad started it I think it was in 1986. We’ve been a tenant at this hotel since 1986, so over 30 years right here.
SS: Does your dad still work in the shop with you or are you mostly running things now?
CW: I’m running things now but he still works in the shop tuning skis a few nights a week and as an adviser when we’re making different decisions for the business. He still helps with some of the major decisions we have to make and he oversees some of the tune shop as well. So he’s still involved and my mom does the book keeping, so it’s very much still a family business. I also have a younger sister who is on Snowmass police force in the animal control unit so we’re all here in the village and we all live here and work here.
SS: What has it been like to work alongside your mom and your dad now as a business partner versus being their son and working for them?
CW: It definitely changes the family dynamic and the relationship between mom and dad because we work together. A lot of times with family businesses it becomes more about business and less about the stuff that you normally chat with your parents about and for the most part for me it’s really good but there’s definitely a shift when you work with mom and dad.
SS: And obviously you have a pretty long running tradition here in Snowmass, moving forward how do you hope to see the shop continue to evolve, grow and serve this community?
CW: Our location here in Snowmass here is really good across from Starbucks and across from the Ranger Station and then the Westin, we get a lot of traffic from the hotel. Being a locally owned and operated business, our goal is to just take care of people no matter who they are, whether they’re a local or a tourist, we have everything you need to go skiing. You could come in with your street clothes and we could suit you up head to toe whether you’re renting or buying. And then serving the community, you know when you spend your money at Snowmass Sports it’s important to know that money is staying local and is reinvested in this community. So when you choose where you’re going to rent from and where you’re going to buy from, it makes a difference at the end of the day with where’s that money going to go? Because some places in Snowmass it goes to the New York stock exchange or it goes to an already really wealthy family, where we’re just a Snowmass family.
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On Sept. 11, a small group of local Roaring Fork Fire Rescue responders walked 3 miles from Snowmass Town Park to the Top of the Village for the fifth annual Axes and Arms 9/11 Climb.