Vermont-based Darkside Snowboards is one of the most respected snowboard shops in the world, with deep roots on the "Ice Coast" and an extremely passionate and knowledgable staff on hand at each of its three locations. From it's unique store-front "DarkParks" to the limited products they stock on their shelves, there are so many reasons to pay Darkside a visit. Read up on this stellar crew in our latest Stay Human, Shop Local retail feature, below, and help us congratulate them on their second consecutive SIA "Retailer of the Year" victory!
Words by Darkside GM, Evan Ricker
How did it all start for Darkside? Why are you important to the snow and local community?
We originally opened as a snowboard shop in 1989, based in Killington, VT. The focus of the shop is and has always been to provide the best service possible, not through kissing ass and selling ourselves out, but simply by being ourselves, doing what we do best, snowboarding… Twenty-five years later we are still going strong and have expanded to three different locations taking up residence in Ludlow, VT and Stowe, VT. Being a Vermont-only core retailer is definitely a source of pride for us all here at Darkside. We are East Coast through and through, eating, breathing, and shitting snowboarding on the infamous “Ice Coast” like you read about. Our Stowe and Killington locations are home to our “DarkParks,” custom created jib parks complete with old boats, cars, pole jams, stairsets, jumps, drops, kinks, quirks, slides, lobbers, jibbers and whatever other words you can make up to describe snowboarding. We strive to cultivate an atmosphere where kids can come play NES, jib a rail or just hangout. Snowboarding is not a sport. At Darkside, it’s a way of life.
Why does Darkside stand above larger, box retailers of the outdoor/action sports industry?
Oh those guys. Don't worry about those guys. We care about the snowboarding community on a grass roots level. The three Darkside shops are involved in their local communities and promote participation in snowboarding. That's what sets us apart from large box store retailers.
Certainly one aspect that separates Darkside from many retailers is the simple fact that we have been a specialty snowboard shop since before snowboarding was “cool.” When we opened our doors to the snowboarding community there were very few shops of our kind and ski retailers were laughing at us. Who’s laughing now? Since the beginning we have always employed people like us, people who live for that one killer turn, who live to learn that next trick, who live to find that new line. We’re not people that snowboard trying to make a living off people that snowboard… We’re Snowboarders blessed with the opportunity to bring snowboarding into other people’s lives.
How do you motivate shoppers to visit your store, or, do you provide any incentive to shop in-person rather than on your website?
We drive anybody from your everyday shredder to your weekend warrior to our brick and mortar locations by carrying specialty product that can't be sold online. For those who can't make it to our shops we have a great website to keep people up to date with the freshest product and the latest store happenings.
What has been the largest struggle you’ve dealt with in the past year at the shop?
No struggles. Just boarding. The key to it all is to ride no matter what, and then nothing is a struggle.
What does “Stay Human, Shop Local” mean to you and your shop?
It means that people too easily go to shop online. We don't want to preach, but local shops need the love to stay alive. Shop local and support your shop please.
“Darkside Snowboard’s for Life!! It’s not just a shop, it’s a community… it’s a family!!” –Mike Toohey
Our locations are in Killington, Stowe, and Okemo. We’re open seven days a week. We love to ride POW and we carry a solid selection of their gloves and mittens on our walls at Darkside. For any questions, you can find your answers at www.DarksideSnowboards.com