Alpine Ski Center has been around forever. Their doors first opened in 1976 and since then they have opened a total of six stores in the south east. We caught up with Bret Smith, Manager of the Knoxville TN store to ask him a few questions.
When and why did you get into the action sports business?
I have been with Alpine for 22 years and haven’t gone to work a day yet when it hasn’t been fun. I started this job because of my love and passion for the sports. It is just so rewarding when you see someone pick up these sports for the first time. This atmosphere has remained the same over the years due to great employees that have a zest to live outside, waiting to see what next season brings.
What is your favorite part of running this business?
Seeing the same faces everyday in our shop and watching all my employees grow up. Some of them have been with me from high school through college. Crazy how you can experience that in running a retail store that has good employees.
Welcome to the wall of snow!
What’s the local scene in your area? Any spots worth mentioning?
In the winter time, Ober and Cattaloochee are not far and have everything we need. During the summer there is Loudon Lake, which everyone goes to. A lot of our customers go to Douglas and Norris Lake too which are about 30 minutes from the store. Definitely more of a weekend destination were people can go up there and enjoy the lakes all weekend long. As far as the hard core rider, they try to get out early morning on these lakes before the wind gets on it. That early morning glass is always nice.
The downtown area of Knoxville on the river gets used a ton when the Wake Tour comes through. They have a great bleacher setup for the audience so you really get a great perspective on the riders and what they are doing.
With the summer coming, how does that change your product offerings and clientele?
We have carried Liquid Force and Connelly for the last 10 years, but we cater mainly to that recreational rider who rides at some of the local lakes. As far as the customers that demand a lot from the sport and are more technical in their needs, we really aren’t their #1 choice in Knoxville. Other shops like the Wake Shop really cater to that clientele.
We cater more to the snowboarder or skier who wants to get into a new sport during the summer time. They shop with us through the winter months and then come back to see us for their summer needs. You know that person who has the family and the boat and wants to get that board for their son or daughter. We also carry the towables, the tubes and all of that good stuff as well. The basic necessities for having fun on the water in the summer.
Rainbow, Teva, Reef. Alpine has your feet covered!
What’s the most exciting development in action sports in the past year–from your perspective?
The size of kickers- 20, 40, 100 foot!!! Really?
Which athletes do you follow?
My employees. For me, it’s not about who can jump or slide the best, but about them being in love with a sport and passing that energy on to our customers. Some of our employees that killed it this winter are Jonathan Thibadau, Thomas Furgeson, and Matt Beam. They all did well at some contests at App this winter and had a blast! Some of our lady employees that enjoy riding are Chelsey Sutton, Kaysee Armstrong, and Kyzie Sandefur. They are all super passionate about the sport. All summer they will go get ice shavings from the Ice Chalet and set up rails going down hills. They do whatever they can to keep riding.
Ladies swim wear from Billabong & Roxy is in stock at Alpine just in time for some beautiful spring days on the lake.
Any new products coming into the store in the near future?
All of our wake is coming in now, so we are getting most of that in this week, and we are also getting big into disc golf. Women’s swim wear is going big right now along with sandals like Rainbows and Teva. We also carry the industry staples like Billabong and Quiksilver. A lot of our customers are looking for a good deal on skis and snowboards in the summer time which you wouldn’t think would be the case. It seems like the hotter it gets in Knoxville, the more skiers and snowboarders come in just thinking about the winter time.
We have a huge selection of sunglasses in the store and even more so in the summer time. We carry a lot of the higher end glasses like Oakley, Smith, and Native. Our employees really take the time to explain to our customers the benefits of these glasses. Since we are in a strip mall setting, we get a lot of walk thru customers in the summer time. People on their lunch break just checking stuff out while they have some time on their hands.
Not up for the snow or water? Try some disc golf!
How about a special deal for someone coming in and mentioning that they found you on ASN?
One free wax or half off first rental of the season – just have to wait until this winter J
Check out one of Alpine’s employees Jonathon Thibodaux below and don’t forget to forget to post a review about Alpine on their ASN profile!
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I started ActionSportsNow (ASN) out of the love I have for action sports. There isn't a time in my life that I can not remember being on a board and now having the ability to introduce this experience to my children is amazing. We do this because we love it and we love working with small business owners in helping them grow their businesses. Without them, these industries wouldn't have the culture and spirit that they do today!