What Makes Specialty Shops Special

By: Jackson Hogen

Published: February 27, 2018

Regular readers of my weekly Revelations are frequently reminded of the importance of supporting your local specialty ski shop. There are countless reasons for doing so, not least of which is that it’s in your best interests. This week’s tale shines a light on why patronizing your local shop matters more than you think.

The big picture focus of this piece is on the power of community, but the details derive from a very singular tragedy. Mike Greenlee loved to ski. His dedication to the sport led him to a stint as a customer service rep at Rossignol HQ in Park City before he and wife Megan relocated to Reno where Mike joined the staff at Bobo’s.

He was skiing Squaw Valley last Thanksgiving Day when for reasons unknown he passed out while riding a chairlift and fell unconscious to the unforgiving ground below. The severity of the injuries to his spine left Mike a paraplegic and he and Megan facing a tsunami of difficulties as well as unspeakable pain.

Mike and Megan Greenlee

But Mike and Megan were not alone. Aside from their own families, they belonged to a larger family, the family that is formed by shops like Bobo’s. Like many specialty shops around the country, Bobo’s is deeply embedded in the community. Calls were placed to local business leaders and throughout local ski community. A benefit was organized and last Saturday night it seemed like all of Reno showed up at the Coney Island Bar to support Mike and Megan.

It was a night for the ages. Every ski brand contributed skis for the raffle and auction, including a 2019 Volkl Mantra M5 that went for $1,100. Many generously donated without so much as a raffle ticket as recompense. Roy Tuscany from the High Fives Foundation served as the highly animated auctioneer. High Fives raises funds to help seriously injured athletes and their families.

Given all his efforts for Mike and Megan, it was fitting that Tuscany was able to announce that three local businesses – Dolan Auto Group, Clark & Sullivan Construction and Western Nevada Supply – pitched in to cover the entire $40K-plus required to renovate the Greenlee’s home. An additional $20,000 was also raised via the auction, raffle and admission fees. That’s the power of community.

There’s more. Rossignol stepped up with a special contribution in light of Mike’s years of service there. Mike is still on Bobo’s payroll and is welcome back whenever he’s ready. The main dish at dinner, by the way, was succulent chukkar and pheasant breasts, all donated by local hunters. Naturally, every dime collected went to the Greenlees.

I’ve been blessed with some great moments in my life, but I’ve never been prouder to be a skier than I was last Saturday night.

If this were an isolated incident, it would still speak volumes about the character of this one ski shop and its connections to its community. But Bobo’s wouldn’t have this measure of community support if it weren’t constantly engaged in Reno life. The shop is a perennial supporter of Sky Tavern, a local program that makes it possible for lower income families to ski. Bobo’s sponsors a Street Team of Reno youth that once included in its ranks the double-gold-medalist David Wise.

I hope by now my point is clear. Specialty shops do so much more than just offer the unique services skiers require. They form part of the fabric of your community and deserve your support for many reasons. Don’t think your local shop isn’t aware of the gear bazaar being run on the Internet. Before you buy from some warehouse, at least give your local shop a swing at the piñata. You might be surprised, not just by great service but by competitive pricing to go with it.

Mike doing what he loved.

In my haste to get my message out, I neglected to mention another reason so many in Reno turned up for Mike and Megan’s benefit. Mike Greenlee is a wonderful human being. He’s warm, witty, industrious and kind. He was, and will continue to be, a great work-mate at Bobo’s. He’s handled the brutal blow that befell him with a grace, sunny disposition and forward-looking attitude that’s stunning. He’s a better man than I.

If you’d like to donate to Mike and Megan –and I encourage all in the greater community of skiers and specialty shops to do so – you can make a contribution at https://www.youcaring.com/search/go?w=MIke+Greenlee.

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