A ski equipment supply company in mountainless Toledo may seem like a difficult business model, but as Mountain Man Sports celebrates 40 years in the outdoor adventure game, it’s clear that they have reached the summit.
While many of us hope for a light winter, co-owners Mark Armstrong and Adam Slough are praying for powder. With a focus on skiing in all its forms, winter is one of the busiest seasons for the adventure sports shop.
“Over the last couple years, with all the snow we’ve had, we pretty much sold out of everything,” Armstrong says, “especially snowshoeing and cross-country skiing gear.”
Knowledge is golden
It isn’t just the inventory that makes Mountain Man Sports succeed though, any REI or Cabela’s can help with that. It’s the knowledge, passion and connection to the outdoors that has made the standalone store a Toledo destination since 1976. Within seconds of talking to customer service tech Richard Allesee, who has been with the Mountain Man team for eight seasons, you understand that customer care is a premium commodity for the business.
“We’re all riders here. We’re all skiers here,” Allesee maintains. “When we talk to a person, the idea is not to sell them anything specific; we’re going to fit that person’s needs. No more, no less.
We’re very experienced boot fitters and we take the time to make sure that folks don’t overbuy or overspend. We expect the equipment to last 10, 12 seasons. Boots that are expected to fit properly so when you drop $150 for a lift ticket, you’re not done in two hours because your feet hurt. We want you out there all day long.
“Every one of those skis (that we sell), I’ve been on,” Allesee adds, emphatically. “I’ve tested every one so I know what they do. And when I talk to (customers), it’s basically putting a puzzle together for me, so they’re on the right ski.”
If salespeople with a passion for getting you exactly the right equipment isn’t enough of an incentive to give Mountain Man a chance, consider the fun and familial atmosphere ingrained in the business.
“Mountain Man is a family. My daughter worked here when she was in high school, I’ve worked here for years,” Armstrong notes. “My partner Adam Slough has been here for 16, 17 years. Dick (Richard) has been here for years and the same families continue to come here, I think, because of our family here at Mountain Man.”
Armstrong and Slough purchased the business from Jim and Carol Wenberg last year when the founders decided to retire, but there are no plans to alter the store’s philosophy or its name— despite that “lack of mountains” thing.
“Jim coined the name of the business 40 years ago and I didn’t see any reason to change that,” Armstrong says. “Many generations of families have grown up with Mountain Man and we want to continue that here in Toledo. It made sense to keep the name the same.”
Winter is coming
Winter hasn’t hit yet, but that’s exactly the reason you should be stocking up on your skiing gear now. The 2017 stock is already in and as Allesee points out, “A golfer buys his driver in March, when he’s still got a ways to go. A bicyclist buys his bikes in the fall because the new ones are coming out. We’re in the business of fun.”
Essentially, Allesee points to the fable about the ants and the grasshopper. Stock up now because winter is coming faster than you realize and you don’t want to be the frozen grasshopper, stuck in last year’s ill-fitting equipment while everyone else is having a good time.
Oh, and when you get there, be sure to say hi to shop mascot, Luna, a 3-year-old golden retriever. With all the specialized knowledge in the store, she’s sure to know a thing or two about where to find some mountains.
10am-6pm | Monday- Saturday
Mountain Man Sports | 2735 Reynolds Rd.
419-536-0001 | mountainmansportsonline.com