Meet Your Merchant: Incline Ski and Board Shop

Longtime Snowmass Village business embraces a family culture

Incline Ski and Board Shop employees pose for a portrait in the shop in Snowmass Village Mall on Friday, Jan. 8, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

The 2020-21 season hasn’t been a total departure from winters past at Incline Ski and Board Shop: there are still rentals to provide, skis to tune and gear to sell at the shop’s Snowmass Mall location.

“It’s a normal season, in a sense, that standard operating procedures are all similar to what we’ve done in the past,” said manager Tim McMahon. “You have to get creative in how you’re servicing the customer to make sure that you’re adhering to Pitkin County guidelines for COVID.”

McMahon would know the difference: The manager of Incline’s Snowmass location has been with the business for 15 years. Incline Ski and Board Shop first opened in 1982. The shop also operates a location in Aspen and offers ski concierge services at a handful of Snowmass Village lodging venues; McMahon said he has worked “all over” during his tenure with the business.

This year, the shop wasn’t as packed as it normally might be during the peak holiday weeks of late December and early January, McMahon said. And some repeat customers were notably absent this year as some decided to skip the holiday hubbub amid COVID-19 concerns.

“That’s one of the great parts of the job, the social component and having those repeat guests that come back year after year, that you know pretty well over the years,” he said. “It’s fun to see them when they come back out on their vacations, and (we) missed a lot of that over Christmas.”

The next two months could tell a different story without the international travel contingent who typically visits in January and February.

“Now, I think, is the time over the next 60 days where we really start to see the impact of lack of international travel,” he said. This time of year, those visitors are a strong customer base not only for Incline but “for everybody,” he said.

Especially in challenging times, the ecosystem of competing Aspen-Snowmass ski shops (many of them operated by individual proprietors rather than larger corporations) is united by a “greater sense of community,” McMahon said. “We’re all in this together.”

Phone calls with other retailers have been part of that community collaboration, McMahon said, lending a hand in times of need, too.

“We know this is going to be a challenging season and we are doing everything that we can to ensure the safety of guests and staff — and then also helping out our neighbors in the event that they need help, just like we do every year,” he said. “It just seems to be heightened this year, because everybody knows the stress of going into this season with a surge in COVID.”

There is one thing that hasn’t changed this year: the company culture.

McMahon isn’t the only longtime staffer at the locally owned business. Most employees tend to stick around, he said.

“Everybody tries to take care of everybody,” he said. “It’s certainly a family culture.”

Literally: some shop employees are siblings or siblings-in-law. But having blood relatives in the business isn’t required to be part of the tight-knit Incline bond.

“When you hire and staff people of similar passions and interests, it’s easy to get along,” McMahon said. “We try to create an environment where it’s fun to come in every day, and while you’re working, you’re still having fun with everybody.”

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