Trollhaugen Ski Shop in Dresser, WI was awarded the 2011 SIA SnowSports North Central Retailer of the Year Award for their contribution and commitment to the growth of the snow sports industry. Owned and operated by the 2nd and 3rd generations of the Rochford family, Trollhaugen Winter Recreation area has been an icon of the Midwest snow sports scene since 1950. John Wright, buyer at Trollhaugen Ski Shop, took some time out to give us some insight on how to be a winning retailer and the challenges he has faces.
SIA: How did you get started in the industry?
JW: I knew from the first time that I skied that this would be how I would spend the rest of my life. My first job was teaching skiing at a small area in Houlton, Wisconsin called 8 Flags over Birch Park. I was 16 years old and thought I had died and gone to heaven. From there, I worked in retail, moved on to being a manufacturer’s rep, and finally back to retail. To quote Max Marolt, “It’s been a great ride.”
SIA: Tell us about one of your top retail success stories?
JW: Without question, our greatest challenge and our greatest success was battling our way back from the fire in 2008. The shop was destroyed by a devastating blaze that May. It took the entire summer to settle with the insurance company, and all fall to rebuild. We finally reopened on Christmas Eve 2008 with accessories only. The following season we came back full force with clothing, equipment and accessories. We are the only full service, full line ski shop at a ski area in this part of the country. Something we are all very proud of.
SIA: Words of Wisdom…
JW: If I were to speak with someone just getting started in the industry, I would try to impress upon them the value of following and never losing their passion for the sport. Too often the day to day grind gets in the way of continued participation in the sport we loved so much that we chose to make it our career.
If I can think of one negative that I have observed during my tenure in the industry, it would have to be that many of the principals in the business are no longer participants in the sport. Too many creative decisions are made by non-skiers or boarders. And to this fact I believe we have taken a giant step backwards.