Snowboard Connection founders John and Lisa Logic, and co-owner Adam Gerken, are familiar names within the TransWorld Business Awards. 2012 marks the fourth consecutive year that Seattle’s Snowboard Connection has triumphed to earn the title of Northwest Retailer of the Year. We sat down with John Logic and Adam Gerken to get filled on how they, and the rest of the crew at Sno Con, continue to kill it every year.
Alright, seriously-what’s your secret?
Well, I have to begin this answer by saying that I am truly blown away by this award, and I want to thank everyone who voted for us! As for our secret, I suppose it boils down to our continued dedication to keep the spirit and history of this great thing called snowboarding alive and vibrant.
What did you do differently/new in 2012?
One big thing that happened this year was we had a big changing of the guards in our staff. We had people move, or start their own companies, or go back to school, etc. It was a harrowing time, itʼs never easy to ﬁll our employees’ shoes; but it was also a time for us to create a new story and watch the new crew “gel.” Weʼve been very proud of the new recruits, and they are working well with the veterans on staff. Another fun thing we did was a weekly event each Wednesday of November called “This Snowboard Life”; itʼs our take on “This American Life” on NPR. Basically, we have an open house, we watch old snowboard ﬁlms (when was the last time you watched “The Garden” or “Roadkill?”), give waxing lessons and drink beer. Itʼs not a sales-oriented event; just fun.
Remind us about your store(s), how long theyʼve been around, what brands you carry, and who your customers are.
John and his wife Lisa, both Southern California natives, moved to Seattle in 1990 to open a small snowboard shop. The store grew as the sport grew, and Adam, who had moved from Alburquerqe in 1995 to work at the store, returned in 2005 to become a partner. We have a second location in Bellevue, which is only 10 miles away, but is a city all its own. Weʼve been lucky to carry the best brands, and over the years weʼve tried to always keep an open mind towards new, smaller brands. Homeschool outerwear is a good example of that. Thereʼs a lot of great companies here in the Northwest, including Capita/Union, Lib/Gnu, K2/Ride, Spacecraft, Airblaster, Poler, Nike, Homeschool . . . and itʼs great to have their support.
Whatʼs the most rewarding thing about working with your brands and customers?
We have become better retailers over the years by learning to trust our vendors and work with them to push new ideas and boundaries. These relationships are rewarding because they are based on mutual respect and a willingness to push each other. In addition, helping brands make better products and create better marketing is also gratifying. As for working with customers, we love getting people psyched to go snowboarding! The most rewarding thing is when a customer takes our advice, tries something new, and comes back and tells us how great it was. Makes you feel like a genius!
Whatʼs your philosophy on the role of specialty retailers in this day and age?
The role of specialty retail continues to evolve and change. I think itʼs most important that we educate people on the importance of ﬁnding the proper gear so they have a great time. Itʼs difﬁcult to compete with the internet for pricing, so you have to give something above and beyond.
What makes your shop different?
History, staff and selection. We are lucky each year to have a fun, energetic staff that really cares about a customer’s experience on the mountain. We receive positive feedback all the time about the crew.
Why do you think your brands nominated you for this award?
I think that the brands nominated us because we represent an ideal that is present less and less. We sell the dream, and we try our best to live it. Every person who works here snowboards, even our web manager; it really matters.
This year was another tough one for core retailers. What have been the keys to your success through the recession and what have you done differently than in yearʼs past?
Every day, month and year is about being smarter, running tighter and surviving. This business is not as easy as it used to be, but itʼs rewarding and challenging, which is good.
What are your predictions for 2013?
Magnetic bindings. Just kidding. I hope to see this year be at least ﬂat compared to last year. There is still a lot of uncertainty in peopleʼs minds concerning the economy, and there were early predictions for a weak winter, which never helps. Now that the election is behind us and the snow is ﬂying, peopleʼs moods seem to be improving.
Anything else youʼd like to add?
Just want to say thanks to all the other core, specialty retailers out there. Itʼs important that we all recognize how important we are, and that we keep snowboarding legit. Represent!