A recent expansion at Pro Ski and Mountain Services in North Bend leaves patrons of the winter sports shop with more room to explore.
Owner Martin Volken said the expansion, into a second storefront on North Bend Way, added about 500 square feet and doubled the retail area.
“I wanted a nicer presentation,” he said. “It’s going to be a better shopping experience.”
The freestanding building next door, he said, was in rough shape. Volken said the structure was open to the elements. However, a complete re-do allowed him to slice through the concrete wall to widen his store. Refinished wooden floorboards, made from home siding, add their glow to the room, while the river rocks in the vintage concrete — the former outside wall — add an unusual accent. The wall is now reinforced with big metal beams.
In the corner is the new office space for Volken’s mountain guiding service, one half of his business.
“We’ve had this business for a long time, but there was never any presence to it,” he said. “Now, it’s got more presence.”
Open since 1999, Pro Ski is now “wiggling into place” following the remodel.
“It’s way better,” said customer Emily Larson of Snoqualmie Pass, who stopped in last week to shop for new skis for the season. “You can move. Before, if you came in and there was more than two people, you felt crowded. Now, there’s some room.”
Volken wants shoppers want to feel relaxed in his space.
“Half the reason you come here is to hang out,” Larson said. “Now, you can just [browse] until somebody’s got time to talk to you.”
Last winter was a good one for the ski business.
“I’m very happy that they’re actually predicting a good winter,” said Volken. “I’m like a snow farmer. No matter what I do, whether I’m guiding or running the gear store,” the job is dependent on weather.
Volken serves skiers in the Valley, as well as acting as a guide for backcountry skiers who visit from around the world. He’s developed a reputation for his downhill backcountry trips, in which skiers don special climbing skins to scale mountains, then enjoy the ride back down.
“You earn your turns,” Volken said.
This is the time of year for skiers to think about what they need for the coming winter, and make sure their skis are tuned up. Volken said it’s a good idea to start looking now, while there’s plenty of inventory. Families can get everyone fitted and equipped early, so that when the snow comes, they ski rather than scramble.
Pro Ski is continuing its children’s trade-in program. Families get a guaranteed trade-in value and can lease or rent skis as needed. Volken describes it as a children’s program created by parents, for parents.
Visit Pro Ski and Mountain Services at 108 W. North Bend Way. Contact the business at (425) 888-6397 or visit www.proguiding.com.