With three locations in Vermont, Darkside Snowboards continues to garner top notch rankings from the action sports industry and was once again rated as Northeast Shop of the Year for this year’s TransWorld business Regional Shops of the Year awards. We caught up with Founder Bill Langlands to find out what the award means to the shop, how they continue to differentiate themselves from the competition, and his predictions for next year.
We originally opened as a snowboard shop in 1989 in Killington, VT. The focus of the shop 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-four 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…
What's the most rewarding thing about working with your brands and customers?
Setting up a new shredder with his/her first set-up is always fun, getting them so stoked for snowboarding and knowing that you will have had a direct influence on their experience within this world that we love so much. Sending them out the door with a high five and a Darkside Sticker only to see them return year after year with a huge smile on their face, their lives forever changed by snowboarding. The true rewards that our customers give to us, however, run much deeper than that. As a local Snowboard shop we have a moral obligation, it is our civic duty to provide a hub for miscreants and model citizens alike, a melting pot where everything and anything Snowboarding lives within our community. To see the friendships and relationships built within the walls of this shop with snowboarding as its vehicle is truly the greatest reward.
The most rewarding thing about working with our brands is an inherent quality within the world of Snowboarding, it's a small world that we live in and it gets smaller everyday. It's nice knowing that when you walk into a business meeting or call up a customer service rep fifteen hundred miles away you're dealing with a friend, someone who shares our passion and dedication to this lifestyle. It's comforting knowing that although we are all in this to make a buck or two, the bottom line is we all have each other's back.
What makes your shop different?
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.
What did you do differently/new in 2012?
Evolution is "the change in the inherited characteristics of biological populations." So keeping true to the thoughts of that weirdo Darwin we have to assume that as our race gradually transforms so must we. Mainly our focus for 2012/13 has been to create a space where people can feel as though they're a part of something more, we want our customers to be involved in what we are doing. Social Media, event driven retail, contests and partying are all high on our list!
Why do you think your brands nominated you for this award?
We have always stuck to our guns at Darkside doing our own thing and doing what we believe is the right thing. For the business to thrive for so many years as a key component to Snowboarding in the Northeast means that what we are doing must resonate on a pretty deep level with all of our friends, brands and customers alike. All we can do is trust in ourselves, listen to what Snowboarding needs and do our best to deliver. We are honored and thankful for this award, thank you all so much for being down with the Darkside!
What are your predictions for 2013?
I think it's going to be a great season for us for 2013, we had a pretty brutal snow year this past season (as did most everyone), but everything is cyclic. We're looking forward to a big snow year, tons of excited customers, and money just coming out of people's ears!