30/30: Salt Lake City’s Salty Peaks

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Salty Peaks. SLC, Utah

Dennis Nazari founded Salty Peaks to help cover travel expenses for the original shop team.  In the 24 years since, Dennis and the crew at Salty Peaks have turned the shop into an SLC staple, taking care of local riders and fostering the Salt Lake skate and snow communities.  They have even grander plans for this year as they look to move forward on a current-location expansion that will house a special piece of snowboard history.  “Hopefully, by this time next year, you will see a fully renovated shop with the world’s largest snowboard collection and history on display – the way it should be,” says  Nazari.  Catch a tour of the shop, a teaser for Salty Peak’s upcoming snow video Eighty Seven and get to know the crew dedicated to “documenting history as it happens” in this Q & A with founder/ owner Dennis Nazari.

Where is Salty Peaks located?

The Wasatch Front, Salt Lake City, UT, home to the greatest snow on Earth!

Can you fill us in on how the shop got its start?

Salty’s started as a way to offset contest travel expenses for the original shop team. Dennis Nazari started the shop with help from Drew Hickent, Rich Vargas, and other friends.  The love of snowboarding keeps the shop going strong today.

Who is on your team?

  • Snowboard Team – Sky Seabrook, Dave King, David Van Wagenen, Shannan Yates, Max Raymer, Chris Frost, Denney Fuller, Micah Hoogeveen
  • Skateboard Team – Isaiah Beh, Jed Fuller, Kendall Johnson, Kevin Fedderson, and Adam Dorobiala
  • Mountain Board Team - Van Dewitt, Halston Rhodes, Casey Thomas, Mason Moore

Have you done any team videos?

Makin’ Moves was our last skate video and Eighty Seven is our new snow flick coming out this fall.

How do you go about selecting riders for the team? What do you feel is the role of the team?

We sponsor guys we know that have the skills to move up the ladder and at the same time support the shop by sending people in. The shop helps to provide an introduction to brands, reps, and people that can help foster brand sponsorships for up-and-comers. The role of the team has evolved over the years, but two main things remain: 1) Shop support and 2) Giving young rippers a vehicle to get their foot in the door with manufacturers or reps that could help build bigger sponsorships.

How many employees do you have on staff?

During peak season, 25 to 30.

What are the snow and skate scenes like in SLC?

Salt Lake is all over the map with trends in both skate and snow, but snow seems to get more exposure. We have close proximity to great resorts and the best snow. Some call it the Hollywood of snowboarding, we just call it home. We have 12 skateparks in the Salt Lake area and on MapQuest a total of 27 in Utah. The scene is strong with pros like Lizard King and Adam Dyet, and other amateurs soon to be pro. SLC is blowing up!

Describe your customer base.

Any day of the week we have a very diverse customer base, from beginners to pros, young and old.

What brands/products move the best at the shop?

In snow, Never Summer and Lib Tech are killing it. Longboards are ruled by Sector 9, Landyachtz, and Rayne. In skate, Alien Workshop, Deathwish, Baker, Real, Anti-Hero, and Krooked are all up there, and our shop decks always do well.

How much does the weather play a part in how busy the shop is and what product is moving?

It makes all the difference in the world. Summer rain kills skate sales and the lack of snow can kill snowboard sales. But when the weather is right, sales are up in both areas.

The retail world has been tough as of late, what has helped Salty Peaks succeed?

  • Customer service is always at the top of the list, trying to keep customers stoked.
  • Holding price and supporting brands that don’t devalue or commoditize their products by flooding the market or allowing excessive discounting. The brands that go down that road always lose in the end – a short-term gain with long-term loss.
  • We give more support to brands that police their policies and actually have the balls to enforce their policy and blacklist all the bad apples.

Any products or lines whose sales have remained consistent even when the rest of the retail world dipped?

Never Summer and Lib Tech for sure, as well as GoPro cameras.

Any innovative brand or market strategies you think have helped you remain successful?

Never Summer’s bomb-proof construction and aggressive policing of discounters has quickly moved them into a golden spot – they have a different ideology that will continue to be a success in the future.

What’s local competition like?

We have seen a lot of shops come and go in the last 24 years. We have planned for the long run by buying and owning our store. We pay cash for bigger discounts and don’t owe anyone money. As far as stability goes, this sets us apart from other shops and it makes the hard times easier. There are other shops like Milo and Blindside that have stayed strong but most shops don’t last 5 years here in Utah. Chain stores’ impact has been minimized, but online discounters seem to be our biggest threat.

How do you differentiate from big box retailers?

Product diversification – we try to limit the brands we carry that are available in big box or mall stores. We do look for and have brands you won’t find anywhere else. We put the “special” in specialty shop.

What’s your take on the relationship between distributors/brands and retailers. How can brands and core shops work together to compete with mall shops?

Correct product segmentation and a focus on core-shop-only product offerings is huge, along with doing what we can to maximize margins and reduce losses. It’s important that these brands make a marketing effort to drive the consumer to our store. The consumer should see the value at shopping at core shops and know that it is the place to find out what’s new with all the brands.

How do you balance and pick brands for separate industries?

Distribution and pricing is always a factor and whether a brand is all about grow, grow, grow and lacking a focus on consumption. The brands that do this created the situation we just got out of, with an over-saturation of product, thus reducing margins and overall demand. We also look at the people behind the brand and their ability to build an “in-demand product,” which helps to drive customers to the shop.

How much business do you do online? How important do you feel an online presence is?

We have seen steady growth in online sales. Winter is bigger than summer but it will always be a part of our business model regardless of the ups and downs. We were one of the first shops to have a web site, back when we were not allowed to sell products on it and it was used more as a business card than a sales machine. Years later, attitudes changed and we were asked why we didn’t sell products online? So, we were a couple years late to the game and are always learning new ways to compete, maintain, and grow.

Any big plans in the near future?

After two years of planning, we are finally moving forward with current location expansion. Hopefully, by this time next year, you will see a fully renovated shop with the worlds largest snowboard collection and history on display– the way it should be. With a mission statement of “Documenting History as it Happens,” we are always adding to the archives for future generations. We are also working on a new POS system to expand our current capabilities and make employee’s jobs easier. Outside of that, it’s eyes forward to an exciting world of tech advancements that make retail easier and more productive. The shop will always be about skating and snowboarding and keeping customers stoked to be involved.