Powderhound has been a staple of ski wear and maintenance for 25 years, and now owner Don Vockeroth has decided it’s time to move on. The store switched ownership last week to Brian Potter.
Vockeroth started Powderhound in 1987, but has been in Rossland since 1971.
“We were in business up on the ski hill as a ski shop and we just wanted to have a downtown presence,” he explained.
Vockeroth said he has a skiing background and outdoor background and so fit right in to Rossland. Prior to that, he was in business in Banff.
He comes from a farming background.
“You kind of learn to be an entrepreneur and work for yourself,” he said. “You find it more difficult to work for other people, just with that type of background. You also don’t mind working. It’s just the way you’re brought up.”
Vockeroth has two daughters who grew up around the store.
“When they turned 13, they got shares in the business, so they became part of it and grew up inside of the business, learning how to look after themselves, take care of other people, manage money and all those kinds of things,” he said. “So that was important to me too, just to have the opportunity for them to grow up inside of a real family business.”
Vockeroth said that he decided to step back.
“I think you get to a certain age where you have to decide to decrease everything and get less involved, because you’re getting too old. It’s time,” he said. “Our two girls are married and have other opportunities in other businesses that they’re involved in. They could have taken it over, and they really wanted to, because it’s a family thing and they felt ownership, but at the same time they’re on to other things.”
Vockeroth said he is not disappointed since “the opportunities that they have now are a lot better than what this would have been.”
Vockeroth said he can’t go directly from running a store to relaxing, and so will keep himself busy with various projects.
He and his wife live in a five story house at the moment and he said he needs to start thinking ahead.
“It’s going to be too much for us as we get older, so we’re going to build a one-level project. We’ve got a couple other little things that we want to do,” he said. “We’ll probably build another house and sell the one we have, then sell the one we build when we build the next one. I’ve said before that if I live to be over 80 or 90, I’ll need a one-story place to live in.”
Vockeroth will likely still be around the store though, since he likes being involved with people and with a business downtown, you see everybody all the time.
“I like that a lot,” he said. “It was a good thing for me. In a selfish way I’m putting myself in a position that I wanted to be in, and obviously making money and putting my kids through school.”
Vockeroth moved to Rossland because his wife is born and raised here. He said it was a nice opportunity because now she has her family and friends nearby.
Vockeroth said Rossland is one of the greatest communities in the Kootenays because there are a lot of facilities per capita, some of the highest in North America.
“The usage is also the highest in North America,” he said.
“The role models are visible. They’re your neighbours, not gods or icons that you read about or see on TV. They’re real human beings. You can do that too. The kids that grow up here have a great role-modelling community that gives them a lot of confidence. Role models like Nancy Greene, Kerrin Lee-Gartner, and if you go down to Trail, then they’re in baseball, track and field, and hockey.”
The new owner, Brian Potter, is a newer resident of Rossland.
Potter said in terms of changes to the store, you probably won’t see anything too significant.
“The name’s going to stay the same and we want to keep Don’s name around. He’s been a big member of the community, so he’s going to be around,” Potter said.
“There aren’t going to be major changes. I think the biggest change people are going to see is in the stock that we carry into the future.”
The other thing that will change is the back end stuff, which won’t be as visible.
“We have a great line up of skis this year. They’re awesome,” he said. “The Austrian wall, that’s what we call it.” He’s referring to the wall of skis all made in Austria.
They will be having a sale this week, to kick off the new store and the season. “Service is going to be just the same,” he assured customers.
Vockeroth backed up the claim, saying Potter is a great tech when it comes to both bikes and skis.
As far as working in retail, Potter said he’s done everything at one point in time.
“That’s certainly one of my major passions, that the service side of things is top notch,” he said. “You name it, we can fix it. Except for the broken skis.” He added that once they’re broken in half, that’s pretty much it for them.