BARTLETT — “New Owners, Same Ski Bums,” said the sign outside Andes Ski Shop last season.
Those words were a perfect fit for the business that had been around since the early 1990s.
The shop was started by Andy Kramp and went through various ownership and management changes.
Then in September of 2018, along came avid skiers and local race-league rivals Kris Kebler and Tim Jackson, who purchased the business from Steve Pelletier, and have owned and operated it ever since.
“Find a way to do what you love, and that was skiing for both of us,” Kebler said. “We knew that East Coast ski seasons were unpredictable; ultimately you’re at Mother Nature’s mercy. Two owners would give us the commitment and ability to provide the service customers needed for the area.
"During the season, tunes need overnight turnaround; the demo and rental fleet always has to be checked, tuned and ready to go. Any day could be a pow day, and pow days need to be attacked with your best equipment.”
The shop offers a full range of skiing equipment, accessories and services. It caters primarily to downhill skiers and snowboarders but also has an inventory of cross-country equipment for rent and sale.
“For a day on the mountain, Andes stocks everything you need, forgot or didn’t realize you needed until you saw it at our shop, plus apres ski gear,” Kebler said.
Being “right around the corner” from Attitash Mountain in Bartlett is obviously a boon for business.
“Tuning skills, good-looking quality equipment/gear and proximity to great mountain terrain is the right mix for any successful ski shop,” Kebler said. “As our reputation grows for service, ski fleet and tune quality, we’re connecting with skiers from all over the valley.”
Having a staff of skiers doesn’t hurt, either.
“Our crew skis and have taken out the latest demos,” Kebler said. “They’re there in the shop on any given day, helping customers. You give them some info about your ski style and ability, and they can recommend the latest demo ski worthy of your time to test on the slopes.”
The term “demo” refers to the stock of skis from the current season for all the major ski brands, and the latest in ski engineering and design.
“Our demo fleet selection is picked by Tim and I with input from local skiers and our tune shop crew specifically for East Coast conditions,” Kebler said. “If someone is looking to purchase new skis, demo-ing a ski will give them the opportunity to try it before buying. We also have customers who prefer not to travel with their skis. Demos allow them to rent a similar ride to their current skis without the extra baggage.”
The staff at Andes includes Adam Holmes, Dave Murphy, Jeff Ready and Duncan MacFadyen in the tune shop, and Kebler, Jackson, Michelle Clifford and Cait Kebler in the main retail area.
“A service that sets us apart is our computerized rental system,” Kebler said. “A lot of information goes into matching you with your rental; info that you already know, such as height, weight and shoe size.
"All of this is keyed into computers on arrival at the shop, and our crew pulls the rental equipment. Ultimately, on a Saturday morning after it’s been snowing all night Friday, it gets you and your crew on the slopes much quicker.”
Kebler grew up in the Mount Washington Valley.
“I often joke with customers that Attitash was my ‘babysitter’ growing up,” he said. “Every weekend as a kid, my folks would drop me off for lessons or race league at 9 a.m. and pick me up at 4 p.m.”
Kebler and Jackson met on the slopes in local adult race leagues, such as Attitash Race League, Mountain Meisters and Red Parka Challenge Cup.
“We’re the same age (37), with the same competitive edge and same thrill for the sport,” Kebler said. “By marketing calculations, that’s 74 years of been-there, done-that ski confidence and knowledge.”
Andes Ski Shop is located on Route 302, south of Attitash. For more information, call (603) 374-6864; email firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to andesski.shop.