An extension of the Middlebury Snow Bowl Seasonal Pop-Uup Shop is now open for business in Proctor basement, which before spring 2020 housed the Middlebury College Store.
Derick Cram, the ski shop manager, and Randall Bigelow, the Snow Bowl’s ticket salesman, currently run the store, which popped up in November and will be disassembled at the end of the semester.
In the past, Cram and Bigelow’s primary focus was the ski shop in the Snow Bowl lodge, which offers day rentals of skiing supplies. A second shop was set up at the Kirk Alumni Center in 2019, which has been moved for the first time to the center of campus.
“I think the main reason for having [the Pop-Up Shop] here [in the Proctor Basement] is to improve access for the students, and subsequently, the general public as well,” Cram said.
Unlike the shop on the mountain, where space is limited by square footage and cluttered with apparel boxes, the Pop-Up Shop on campus offers easier access to a wider array of products. Currently, the shop is selling everything a skier needs, like ski jackets, pants, gloves, goggles, helmets, boots, poles and skis. Also on sale is a variety of Snow Bowl themed gifts and collectibles such as postcards, coffee mugs, pint glasses and stickers.
“And new stuff is coming every day,” Cram said.
Besides retail, the Pop-Up Shop also provides seasonal leasing and fitting services. The pandemic has changed how services are offered, and online appointments have now been implemented. This enables shop assistants to give customers their undivided attention, according to Cram.
“By the time the snow flies, it’s like gangbusters. It’s like a revolving door, people are constantly coming in,” Cram said.
Leading up to Dec. 1, Bigelow has processed more than eight hundred orders for the early-bird rate for the ski passes. He expects more orders to come flooding in from college students as the ski season starts and people begin purchasing ski passes during J-Term.
This year, the Snow Bowl is offering passes to first years free of charge, hoping to encourage a large number of new students to make memories at the mountain. To sign up, first-year students can email their names, student ID numbers and a pass photo to the Snow Bowl email address.
“But be very careful with the photo you submit,” Bigelow joked. “One young man sent a picture of him next to a golden seal. We liked the golden seal better, so his ski pass is the golden seal.”
Cram and Bigelow have a core team of more than 50 staff members working at the Snow Bowl. The crew exceeds 150 with instructors, ski patrol members and kitchen staff included.
Merchandise in the Pop-Up Shop comes from an overstock of prior years, which has greatly increased in quantity due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Most of these products satisfy the needs of general consumers, unlike some shops in the area that cater to more high-end customers.
Cram selects his products so that his merchandise does not overlap with those of another store. For instance, if one shop carries Darn Tough socks, the Pop-Up Shop will go for another brand, like Fox River.
“We try to be mindful of what is going on in town and try not to step on other businesses,” Cram said.
The Pop-Up Shop will remain open until the break begins at the end of the fall semester. After that, everything will be put away for the possible return of the campus bookstore. In the future, Cram wishes to set up something more permanent. His ultimate goal is to establish a full-time, year-round shop in town or on campus that is accessible in the pre-season, post-season and perhaps the offseason as well.
“Maybe [the shop] will be some combination of ski and golf,” Cram said.
With J-Tterm just around the corner, Cram and Bigelow are offering a final pre-season sale. There is currently a five percent discount off all retail purchases and any student that signs up for a season lease will get 20 percent off a helmet.