By Carlee Frank
There may be nothing more daunting than trying to figure out ski and snowboarding gear for the first time. If we were left to our own devices, many people would be flying –or falling –down the slopes with skis too big and boots too small. However, there are many professionals more than willing to help snow enthusiasts navigate the world of winter sport equipment.
Bruce and Kim Zehnder opened Glenwood Depot in 1999 at 9452 State Road in Glenwood. They work by appointment to fit customers with seasonal rentals of skis and snowboards.
While the business has certainly grown over the years, it started out with one small building.
“We saw that the building was for sale, and then when we came and checked it out there were some skis and snowboards inside; so from there, we went into the skiing business,” Kim said.
They have enjoyed the store from the start because they make their customers the top priority. Every skier and snowboarder leaves with the perfect fit and style, and, they hope, a great experience.
“The people who come back every year, and the new people, just seeing them smile as they walk out the door is really important,” Bruce said.
While they don’t sell equipment, they rent from multiple brands such as Nordica, Salomon, Atomic and Rossignol. Based on each skier’s needs, Bruce and Kim said they know exactly which skis to provide –heavy or light, long or short, carvers or all terrain, etc.
They also offer tune ups, waxing and repairs, and sell goggles, hats and helmets. Although, Kim said hats are becoming a thing of the past, and noted that most people opt for helmets.
Not many ski shops offer fittings by appointment, and this unique business plan is catered around the needs of their customers. Upon opening, they found that daily rentals cause a mad rush all season long, and distracted from their seasonal renters.
She remembered a busy day years before the additional building was constructed when she lost a family of four in the tiny store. She had been fitting people, filling out paperwork and getting everyone their skis and boots, so when the crowd finally began to dissipate, she saw the family sitting in the lobby.
“I said, ‘Oh my goodness, why didn’t you whistle?’ and they said, ‘Well, we’ve been enjoying watching you work with all of these people instead,’” Kim said, laughing.
So they chose to work by appointment so that they can devote all of their attention to each customer. However, they do offer daily rentals of snowshoes and cross country skis.
Glenwood Depot started with the slogan, “We rent winter fun!” but Kim said they like to think it’s, “The fun starts here.” Every child that visits the store goes home with a fruit scented mini lip balm because, they said, even little gestures matter. They give out over 600 lip balms annually and plan to carry on the tradition.
“I get super excited with the kids,” Kim said. “I tell silly jokes, and it’s always really fun!”
They said a large number of their customers have become like family, and that is what makes the long seasons worth it. While they said they can’t keep working at the shop forever, they certainly aren’t ready to leave yet.
“It’s nothing we ever planned, but I think it’s turned into a nice business. We’ve made a lot of people happy, and it makes us feel good to do that,” Bruce said.
Glenwood Depot is focused on switching all communication with customers to text, so for more information, text Kim at (716)860-3804 and she will respond ASAP.