Posted on 2/28/2017 by Erik H. Reisner
We sat down for a second time with the owner of Splinters Board Shop after their 1st winter's operation. We first met owner Travis Kerr when we helped him find and lease his retail space in Warren, which he now plans to purchase outright.
When did you officially open Splinters Board Shop?
We had a grand opening October 8th for “Indigenous People’s Day” weekend. We had limited hours through October, but went to 7 days a week for November.
So, you’ve been open 5 months. What were your expectations, and how have been they met?
Most of my projections were based on the old shops I managed in Waitsfield. We are seeing an increase in traffic on the Access Road, especially weekends and holidays. The locals, second home owners, and resort employees are still one our biggest assets for mid-week and off-week traffic. The support has been unreal, we’re hitting our goals, we’re so thankful!
What has been your biggest challenge thus far?
Our biggest challenge thus far has been keeping inventory on the shelves; specifically boots, boards, and bindings. Like I said, we based our orders on what I used to do at the old shop, we are selling a lot more units here at Splinters. That said, selling out of product is the best problem we could ask for in our first year of business. We’re not complaining!
What is your ‘best seller” in the snowboard shop?
Boots is our bestselling category, and VANS is our best selling brand. We are over 95% sell-through for Men and over a 75% sell-through for Women & Kids. Bindings are a close second.
If you had to start from scratch again, what would you have done differently?
I would have invested in a rental fleet. This season we only had junior season leases, which we sold out of before Christmas. We turn away multiple rental requests every weekend, almost every day. We are adding day rentals and performance demos for next season.
What has been your best marketing tool?
I think our logo apparel and stickers might have the biggest impact. Everyday customers mention that they saw our logo on sweatshirts, helmets, and the occasional chair lift sticker. We have sold hundreds of Splinters Boardshop hoodies, tees, hats, facemasks, etc. that help get the word out! We also have a constantly growing reach on social media. Our Instagram page has grown from 150 followers to over 750 and counting just in the last few months.
Any advice for an aspiring retail store owner?
You have to put in work – like 60-80 hour weeks. There is always something to do, improvements to be made and no one else is going to do it for you. If you can do more, DO IT! Also, make lists…that helped me stay organized and knock out tasks. It can get very over-whelming at times, but make a list and tackle one thing at a time, that’s all you can do. This interview is on todays’ list haha.
Any big plans or changes for next snowboard season?
As I mentioned, we will have a full day rental fleet for next year, as well as some performance demos, and a couple split-board rentals. We are also adding some more hardgoods brands including Never Summer Snowboards, Rome Snowboards, Arbor Snowboards, and Fix Bindings. We are also going to refocus our outerwear selection to highlight more technical, performance based outerwear. Better waterproofing, insulation, and fits for people out there getting it!
As the Mad River Valley's only dedicated Snowboard shop offering sales & service (and soon to be snowboard rentals), Splinters has quickly become the goto place for snowboard enthusiasts.