Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 39

Feature .03

W
LAHOUT'S-OLDEST SKI
SHOP IN AMERICA
LITTLETON, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Topher Baldwin

(WITH STORES IN FIVE OTHER LOCATIONS)

FOUNDED: Like every good ski story whose
roots had nothing to do with skiing, this one
started with Herbert Lahoud and his family standing in the intake line at Ellis Island.
A native of Lebanon, Lahoud had limited
English. When the intake official asked
him where he was from, he responded, "the
mountains of the Mediterranean." All the
official heard? "The mountains." So instead
of sending him to Washington, D.C. or the
Carolinas, he pointed him toward Vermont.
From there, in the 1940s, Lahout (his name
changed by the immigration official, who
thought the hard ending sounded more
"American") made his way to Littleton, New
Hampshire. Starting a general store, he put
his young son Joe to work, stocking shelves
and running the register. Then Herbert
died of appendicitis, leaving Joe to care for
the family. With all the trauma-from his
dad's death, from his early push into manhood, and, later, from having most of his
Army infantry unit wiped out during World
War II-Joe turned to nature, and skiing, to
heal. "My Lebanese immigrant grandfather
started a ski shop at a time when all of the
reps were Ivy League ski racers who locked
him out of their shows," says Joe's grandson
Anthony. But Joe persevered, raising his
family above the store and holding "anytime
hours," wherein he'd come downstairs and
help customers "anytime they honked their
horns." Joe's perseverance paid off. In the
1980s, his sons took the reins, expanding
store locations from one to six. The secret to
their success? A half-museum, half memoryfrom-childhood feel in their stores coupled
with a tenured and loyal team that encourages customers to come in, hang out, and tell
the Lahouts where they went skiing.
THE LEGACY: The Lahouts want their stores
to be about the customer and how they're
enjoying their time in the mountains; not
how much money they're spending. "But we
also want to keep it young and loose," says
Anthony. "Lahout's is a freeride shop. We sell
skis to kids who are trying to break them and
hang them on their wall."

THE VIBE: In the 1970s, when a lot of people
were modernizing [outdoor] stores-
with stainless steel, automatic doors, and
computer systems-Joe couldn't afford it.
"So he went in reverse, saying I'm going to
make this the most authentic, hillbilly New
Hampshire mom-and-pop shop possible,"
says Anthony. That's an ethos they'll never
lose. "In fact, I just left a renovation of our
main store-when I say renovation, we're
putting up barn board," says Anthony.
THE PEOPLE: Anthony and uncle Ron run the
six locations together, with Ron focusing on
soft goods and accessories while Anthony focuses on the ski shop and footwear. "We try and
keep it like that intentionally," says Anthony.
"If you're selling freeride and fun and clothing,
there's a certain demographic that goes with it."
THE FUTURE: Besides day-to-day operations, Anthony is "bringing Lahout's into the
20th century," he says. That means creating
a digital sales program, doing technical store
surveillance, installing high-speed internet,
and implementing electronic payroll at all
stores. Lahout's is also investigating strategic partnerships with other companies
(partnerships already exist with Patagonia,
Burton, The North Face, and Life is Good,
among others). "And we're in the ninth inning of starting store location number seven
in fall of 2019," says Anthony.

W
PRINCETON SPORTS
BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

FOUNDED: Unless you live in the east,

Baltimore may seem like a weird place to start
a ski shop. And Princeton didn't start out as
one; it began as a bike-slash-toy store back in
1936. Owners Samuel and Lucille Davis loved
pedaling, so they opened a store to rent and
repair bikes for locals. But on their honeymoon, they visited a ski shop and saw how it
raked in money. Plus, ski season was opposite bike season so adding skis to their gear
fleet seemed reasonable. Samuel went all-in,
co-founding Sports Specialists Ltd. (SSL),
a collective of specialty retailers, in 1967.
SSL now reps over 50 ski shops doing close
to $200 million in ski sales, says Samuel's
son, Alan. And Princeton Sports, located less
than 90 minutes from Brown Top, Liberty,
and Whitetail ski areas, remains one of the
most successful ski shops in the East. How
so? "We're a toy shop," says Alan. "We firmly
believe that whoever dies with the most toys
wins, and we're going to do everything we can
to help you do that."
THE LEGACY: Families make up the largest percentage of Princeton's ski customers,
something Alan attributes to his dad. "He

Winter 2019 / OUTDOOR RETAILER 39



Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019

OUTDOOR RETAILER - WINTER 2019
CONTENTS
THE PULSE
HEADLINES
MERCHANDISING
MARKETING
BIG PICTURE
GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
CASE STUDY
IDEAS
WHITNEY CONNELL
SHERYL DEBOARD
EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
RESEARCH
NEPTUNE’S REVIVAL
MOVING THE NEEDLE
SKI TRADITIONS
BREAD+BUTTER
KNOW YOUR WINTER SPORTS
MADE IN AMERICA
WORK WEAR
COUNTER CULTURE
THE VIEW
HOW I GOT HERE
#REPLIFE
FROM THE ROAD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - OUTDOOR RETAILER - WINTER 2019
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover2
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 1
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - CONTENTS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 3
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 4
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 5
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 6
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 7
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 8
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - THE PULSE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - HEADLINES
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 11
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MERCHANDISING
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 13
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MARKETING
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - BIG PICTURE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 17
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - CASE STUDY
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 19
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 20
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - IDEAS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - WHITNEY CONNELL
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - SHERYL DEBOARD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 25
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - RESEARCH
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 27
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - NEPTUNE’S REVIVAL
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 29
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 30
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 31
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 32
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 33
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MOVING THE NEEDLE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 35
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 36
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 37
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - SKI TRADITIONS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 39
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 40
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 41
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 42
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - BREAD+BUTTER
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - KNOW YOUR WINTER SPORTS
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 45
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - MADE IN AMERICA
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 47
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - WORK WEAR
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 49
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - COUNTER CULTURE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 51
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - THE VIEW
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 53
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 54
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 55
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 56
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 57
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - HOW I GOT HERE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 59
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - #REPLIFE
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 61
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - FROM THE ROAD
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 63
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 64
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover3
Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - Cover4
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