Many folks from all over the state come to Flagstaff to enjoy the snow, whether it be for the fresh snowfall on the slopes of Arizona Snowbowl or the winter wonderland of downtown Flagstaff. In a season where outdoor activity is occurring in abundance, Aspen Sports is working to accommodate mountain gear and apparel needs.
Married couple Rich and Heather Reading have recently become the new owners of Aspen Sports, a sports goods shop located in downtown Flagstaff, and are already seeing huge amounts of traffic within the store.
“We have been fortunate enough to not struggle through this pandemic like many other shops and businesses have,” Rich Reading said. “These last few weekends, we will start off with, let’s say, 400 pairs of gloves on the shelf and by Sunday, we will be down to 100 or less. People have been coming in here and other shops to buy cross country skis, and we won’t be getting any new skis until next year. That is how crazy the demand is.”
Aspen Sports carries a variety of items besides gloves and cross country skis. According to its website, brands such as Marmot, Kuhl, Black Diamond and Wigwam are just a few of the names on the shelf. Besides being an outfitting shop for the extremes, both in terms of weather and adventure, Aspen Sports is Flagstaff’s only local full service skate shop. Being full service means the store builds boards, is stocked with all the necessary accessories and gives classes for beginners to learn to stand and move on a skateboard.
Selling skateboards creates a large customer base for Rich and Heather Reading. Rich Reading said during the warmer months of the year when the sales of technical clothing and equipment dip down, usually the sales of skateboards and the associated equipment pick up the slack.
Rich Reading said having a younger crowd shop downtown has been great for them. Large amounts of business come locally, he said, but there is also considerable amounts coming from Phoenix and surrounding areas.
“[Business is a] mix between local and college students and a good blend of people coming from the valley,” Rich Reading said. “On weekends like the ones we have been seeing, a lot of the traffic is from Phoenix or elsewhere. We see faces from all over northern Arizona, but I would say our customer base is about 50/50. Many customers have been coming into the shop for 30-plus years and some just moved into the area. Our numbers have been as good as ever and we expect the same going forward.”
Senior Madeline Salberg has been a visitor to Aspen Sports throughout her college career. Some specialty items the shop carries keeps her coming in on occasion to check out the new stock and shop around.
“I don’t shop there as frequently as I used to, but my favorite things they carry are Hydro Flasks with all the accessories and also the wide variety of beanies,” Salberg said via Instagram direct message.
Salberg said Aspen Sports has a solid selection of products Aspen Sports has, but believes there might be a little bit of room for improvement. She said she wishes they would start doing rentals again and provide more products in the upstairs section.
Senior Charlie Schroeter finds himself skiing during the winter months like many Flagstaff residents, but said his draw to Aspen Sports is not for the alpine equipment and clothing. Instead, it is for the store’s skate shop.
“[I] stop in from time to time, most of the products I buy are from the skate section, but this time of year I am spending most of my time on the mountain skiing,” Schroeter said over Instagram direct message.
With the ski season in full swing, many visitors to Flagstaff and Snowbowl do not own winter gear or the necessary equipment to navigate the mountain terrain. According to Bloomberg, $800 is not an uncommon price to spend on skis, boots and bindings alone, omitting the price of quality cold weather gear, which can become equally as expensive.
Rich Reading said on an almost daily basis, locals and tourists are flocking to the shop in order to buy gear they may have lost, forgotten or finally destroyed.
“Every afternoon people come into the store looking for new equipment, gloves, jackets, goggles, you name it,” Rich Reading said. “People will ski all day then come back into town looking for a better deal than what they saw on the mountain and that is why we are here.”
Aspen Sports has been a leader on the scene of mountain equipment, clothing and hardware in Flagstaff for over 30 years. Aspen Sports can be a start for those looking to take part in Flagstaff’s sports.