At the alpine shop, they've been going downhill for 32 years

Last winter, a friend of Frank Delamarter's showed up at the Schweitzer Alpine Shop with his daughter and her ancient pair of hand-me-down skis. Frank's friend put them on the counter and asked Frank to adjust the bindings.

Frank shook his head. "No," he said. He grinned and reached behind him for a pair of his new, shaped rentals. The young lady had the time of her life that day, and her happy father was impressed by Alpine Shop's expertise and service.

In 1966, the Alpine Shop was a tiny retail and rental ski outlet in a crowded corner of the daylodge basement at Schweitzer Basin. Now, going into their 32nd season, the Alpine Shop has two stores and over 40 employees during the winter. The downtown Alpine Shop is a Sandpoint landmark with its trademark A-frame roof peak. At Schweitzer Mountain Resort, The Alpine Shop takes up most of the ground floor of the Mill building.

Owners Bob and Linda Aavedal credit their employees with the Alpine Shop success. Several of their full-time employees are into double digits when it comes to years of employment. Frank began work in 1970 and now runs the rental and repair shop on the mountain in the winter. Tom Anderson, who runs the retail shop at Schweitzer and fixes boats downtown in the summer, is a 20-year Alpine Shop vet. In the downtown store, ski repair wizard Norbert Deem has 16 years in the back room. Connie Scherr has 14 years of Alpine Shop service, as has Lucille Davis.

Along with the 10-year-plus employees and another batch who are well into their first decade, Alpine Shop's secrets are great products, customer service and diversity. Beside skis, snowboards, boots and ski togs, the downtown shop offers boat service in the summer time, plus a full assortment of canoes, kayaks and water sports gear.

- Sandy Compton

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