A single snowflake is exquisite in its intricate beauty. When it snows, however, there’s never just a single snowflake, but so many they are impossible to count.
That’s how the family-run Alpine Sport Shop clan has grown throughout their 76 years in business. Their family and the vast number of customers (who are treated like family there) just keep multiplying.
The Family Fun Center
When she was just 4 years old, Cathy Hay learned to ski. In 1966, Cathy’s parents, Thurlow and Dorothy “Dot” Woodcock bought the Alpine Sport Shop, established in 1941 by Ed and Jo Taylor, and ran it until Thurlow died suddenly in 1988.
Cathy’s husband Jack, who she met on their high school ski team, started working there in 1970. The fun experiences that they’ve shared together since, and have invited others to enjoy with them, have provided the adventure of a lifetime.
Today, they have two children and four grandchildren.
“We’re fortunate, we’re selling fun, it’s a happy experience,” said Cathy.
All the World’s a Stage
Inside the ski chalet-style store that Thurlow designed and built, the charm of winter is on full display.
In front of the massive stone fireplace is a comfortable resting place for customers to wait, sipping coffee and munching popcorn, while flipping through photo albums.
“Our tension is when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It’s about being flexible and going with the times,” said Cathy.
For years, the store had an indoor ski slope for beginner ski lessons. When there is enough snow, Jack still skis off the store’s sloping roof outside.
“Retail is show business,”
The Family that Plays Together
Alpine Sport Shop has hosted bonfires, yodeling contests, ski clinics, movies, authors, an annual snow-fall prediction contest, and many other community events.
For 20 years, they’ve been leading group ski excursions to destinations around the world.
“It takes the work out of the trip so our customers are free to build friendships among themselves. It’s so gratifying,” said Cathy.
In 2005, Alpine Sport Shop transformed into a reception venue for their daughter, Jessica’s wedding to former shop manager Greg Robinson.
The Hay’s younger daughter, Julia Lee has worked at Alpine Sport Shop for more than a decade. Even their golden retriever, Gilda, was a constant presence in the shop (as a “speedbump”, said Jack).
Fern, the 1 ½ year-old golden retriever they have now, is not yet “retail ready” said 22-year employee Terri-Lynn Pellegri.
As someone who was introduced to skiing as an adult, Pellegri said she is not the daredevil skier that Jack is, but still enjoys skiing with her second family.
“That’s the beauty of it, you can do it your own way,” she said.
The Alpine Sport Shop is hosting a FREE Ski Tuning Day talk November 12 at 7 p.m. at Skidmore College’s
The 35th Annual Pre-Season Ice-Breaker Sale, with discounts 15 to 50 percent storewide, begins November 16.
For more information go to www.alpinesportshop.com