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Mountain West

Making You Wish For Endless Winter

Spend your winters here and summers in the Southern hemisphere and you can ride the slopes all-year-round. Alright, so we may not all have the luxury of chasing snow, but we ARE very fortunate to have Mountain West, a cozy gem of a shop at the junction of Division and 10th. This independently owned and operated joint stocks just about anything and everything you might need on your next expedition to Tahoe or, say, the slopes in Chile, and it’s never too early to start preparing.

In today’s day and age of internet and big box retailer takeovers, many shoppers forgo visits to brick and mortar stores in favor of comparison shopping for the “best deal” online. Adopting this strategy works for some things, but for snowboard/ski pursuits, forgoing a store visit deprives you of a crucial element: ensured personalization. You can spend hours reading product reviews and “educating” yourself about snow sports, but when it comes down to gear you owe it to yourself to grab some face time with people who know what they’re talking about and are passionate about making sure you get the ride you’re looking for.

San Francisco native Arturo Beyeler and his father have been serving snowboarders and skiers from all over the world since Mountain West opened its doors in 2001. Having been in the industry since 1989 working and managing several shops, Arturo learned the ins and outs and saw an opportunity to provide a specialized combination of products and service neglected by all the shops he knew. The result? A mid-to-high end ski/snowboard shop with several key factors setting it apart from the other big sporting good retailers.

One: custom boot fitting. Finding a pair of snowboarding boots is not as simple as specifying your shoe size. In fact, boot size often doesn’t equal shoe size. But there are other things to consider beyond your foot length. The evolution and popularity of the sport have given rise to new boot lacing systems and you really need to physically try all three to best determine which you prefer. Also of crucial importance is heel grip; heels sliding in and out of your boot is the last thing you want. As for ski boots -- well I’ve never dabbled on that end, but Mountain West specializes in custom boot fitting for both.

Armed with a knowledgeable and experienced staff, this is your go-to spot in the Bay if you’re looking for precision and speed in getting your gear all set up. The personalized boot fitting agenda here is second to none and employees will spend one-to-two hours with a customer to perfect the fit of a ski boot. Which brings me to the next wonderful thing about Mountain West: the people here are real. You won’t find any sales goons pressuring you to buy the most expensive package (unless, of course, you’re one of those people that must have the fanciest and newest shiny gear). Most of the stuff sold in the store has been demoed by employees so they can give you the real dish. How many days a year do you ride? Is your riding style aggressive? Be prepared to answer questions such as these when you visit.

If you’re the kind of shopper that likes to try before you buy, Mountain West has a stellar demo program. Take a pair of skis or a board up for the weekend and test it out. Try another pair another weekend. Now apply the fees you paid for these last two rentals toward the purchase of a brand new pair of skis. That’s right, if you participate in the demo program you can apply the charges paid towards up to two of your rentals on any new gear in the store until the end of the season. This is a fantastic deal. On the other hand if you don’t feel the need to pay for brand new, Mountain West also sells lightly used equipment at a discount of course, so poke around.

2008 merchandise is just starting to roll in so if you want to check out a full assortment, end of September might be your best bet. If you’re looking for a deal on stuff from the 2007 season, now is a great time to go. Many of the boots are on sale and outerwear is 30% off marked prices. Arturo only carries what he considers to be “pinnacle” brands: Burton, Oakley, Spyder, Roxy, Forum, DC and Never Summer to name a few. You’ll also find wares from smaller and local companies. It’s all about quality here. Also noteworthy: Mountain West carries and demos a women’s-specific ski fleet, which is very unique. For you snow-shoers out there, Mountain West has you covered too.

If you are traveling with your gear you will want a bag to stow it all in and Mountain West offers many choices. Bags in the “Buffalo plaid” pattern that is all the rage right now provide some insurance you’ll spot your bag at a glance on the baggage carousel. If you find yourself in the more conservative camp there are plenty of black and brown options to choose from as well.

In a nutshell, Mountain West is a full service shop prepared and enthused to meet all your snow sport needs. Whether you’re a novice, expert, timid or aggressive in your riding, you will find nothing but genuinely passionate and honest experts here who care more about matching you with the appropriate goal-reaching gear rather than trying to make a fast buck. Go in for a custom boot-fitting session and some free tips about navigating the powder and after that it’s happy riding!