Outdoor Retailer - Winter 2019 - 40

Feature .03

BERG'S SKI SHOP
EUGENE, OREGON

SELLING STOKE
Alan Davis makes
getting people to love
skiing his business.

introduced more people to skiing than anyone I know," he says. In the 1960s, Samuel
offered ski school trips to local kids, 400
signed up annually. Many of them now
have children of their own. They come to
Princeton to buy gear- "Nothing's better
than riding chairlifts and skiing with kids,"
says Alan. Princeton's customers also ski
the world. "A lot fly Southwest straight to
the Rockies where they're skiing by noon.
We support them. We do downhill skis. We
believe in chairlifts. Gravity is our friend."
THE VIBE: "Didn't I mention that we're a toy
store?" says Alan.
THE PEOPLE: "I look at us as a big dysfunctional family," Alan says of his current employees. But his former employees speak volumes. He recently closed another Princeton
store in Columbia, Maryland (the offer for the
building was too good to turn down). More
than 200 ex-employees came to the closing party, including "sales girls" who worked
with him in his past and who brought their
20-year-old kids. "They're so proud to come
in and say, 'I worked here.'" he says. "I always
try to do more than just run a store-we take
care of people." He also launches ski industry
careers. "I have probably 20 people who have
graduated here and are doing really well."
THE FUTURE: It's scary as hell," says Alan, referring to climate change, direct-to-consumer
sales, box stores, and high-end rental equipment, all of which impact brick-and-mortar
stores. But he plans to keep delivering on his
end by being as fair and honest with customers
as possible, and by continuing to bring the fun.

40 OUTDOOR RETAILER

/ Winter 2019

FOUNDED: The origin story of Berg's is your
typical American tale, or so says thirdgeneration owner Svein Berg. At age 18 in
1928, Svein's grandfather Al left Norway for
America, fleeing the atrocities of World War
II. He landed in Seattle, wandered the northwest, and eventually went to Klamath Falls,
Oregon. Meanwhile, Svein's grandmother
came to America as a baby, found work as a
bank teller in her early teens, and ventured
west with her boss at age 15. Leap several
years ahead, and Al and Emma buy a gas station in Eugene. Svein's father came along
in 1930. Not long after, Al took him skiing.
The very next day, Al visited a ski shop and
said, "We're going to outfit ourselves for skiing. We'll be a skiing family." A businessman
through and through, he turned to selling,
and in 1955, armed with Bogner suits and
Head skis he had to sweet talk out of some
Ketchum, Idaho, reps, he opened Berg's in
a converted sorority house he bought for a single buck. Svein's dad and uncle started running the store at ages 13 and 14, and in 1988,
when Svein was 14, he joined as the newest
paid family member. Today, his greatest contribution is building human bridges. Over
the years, he's seen a shift in ski shops from
"That's our customer, hands off " to "We need
to work together to make [the ski industry]
last," and he's made it his purpose to facilitate
that shift.
THE LEGACY: Svein believes the future of
skiing is getting people into the right boots.
To that end, he attends bootcamps where he
meets other fitters and asks, "How can we
help each other out? It's like we better start
working together or we won't have anyone to
play with." Berg's also prides itself on teaching local kids whose first jobs are in the shop,
a work ethic that has made many of them
highly successful in the workforce.
THE VIBE: "We're old school," says Svein of
the decor. "We don't change that much. We're
the shop that you bring your kids to when
they're little, and that your kids decide is uncool in high school, but that your kids return
to out of college when they realize, 'Oh shoot,
that was the coolest shop we've ever been to.'"
THE PEOPLE: Berg's routinely employs stu-

dents from nearby University of Oregon.
They're young, they're stoked on skiing,
and, at the time of this interview, at least
four had been sent there on the recommendation of other ski shops. When they arrive,
they get a top-notch education. "Being old
school, we might be a little rigid [about
customer care and hard work]," says Svein,
but it pays off in customer service skills and
attention to detail.
THE FUTURE: "My grandpa wanted a shop
that brings families together," says Svein.
"He still comes here every day to give little
kids candy. When you walk in the door,
you know you're going to be cared for." The
Bergs wouldn't change that for anything.

W
HELM OF SUN VALLEY
SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA

FOUNDED: The name Sun Valley ring a bell?
The original Helm, Chuck Sr., grew up and
learned to ski there. After helping build
the trails on Bald Mountain, he opened a
store in Ketchum, Idaho. His son, Chuck
Jr., grew up in the business until 1952,
when he left for the University of Utah.
Over the years, he and Chuck Sr. often
passed through Sacramento on their way
to ski markets in San Francisco. They were
looking for a new location for Helm of Sun
Valley due to stiff competition in Ketchum.
They settled on Sacramento because of its
large population and proximity to Squaw
Valley, Sugar Bowl, Northstar, and Lake
Tahoe. The original Helm location was
sold and has since become Sturtevants.
Once Sacramento's Helm was built, it took
off, says Chuck Jr.'s daughter Angela, and
then it really boomed in the 1980s, "when
families started driving to the mountains,"
she says. They'd stop in Sacramento for
skis, boots, coats, gloves, and sunscreen.
(Kidding-baby oil! It was the 70s!) "So we
stuck with it as a true ski shop in the sense
that we're only seasonal," she adds. Another
generation later, Helm still sells everything
you need to go skiing (but no snowboards).
"When you walk in, you get a sense that
you're in Switzerland," Angela says. "We
have a lot of hearts and edelweiss. We're
very traditional looking. I'm glad my dad
went down that path because our stuff is

Photo courtesy Princeton Sports

W



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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