In 1983 Eric Burt (a fifth generation SLV native) purchased Kristi Mountain Sports after the previous owner tragically passed in a motorcycle accident. Eric was 19 years old.
In 1984 he met and married Lisa, and for the past 35 years the Burt Family has been at the helm of Kristi Mountain Sports.
We’ve seen a countless number of changes in our industry, outdoor products, the San Luis Valley community, and our business over the years. Technology is arguably the biggest influencer of change – we realize the benefits and drawbacks on a daily basis. Powerful computing systems enable us to manage 25,000 unique SKUs. Reliable internet allowed us to open a second location in Del Norte with linked inventory and sales data. Our website attracts the attention of travelers from around the world who come to the Valley to sandboard the Great Sand Dunes.
…and Amazon continues to get bigger, and bigger, and bigger.
Recently we had a very disheartening interaction with an individual who inquired about pricing on an item. He asked if we were selling at a lower price than our competitor down the street - who priced the item at standard retail. Our response was, “We price our items at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) – same as our competitor.” The individual said, “Man, I have a hard time justifying paying that when I can go online or catch a sale in the city and get it 60 percent off. But, I love that you guys host ski movies. I’ve gone the past three years.” This instance drove right to the heart and soul of the battle our Valley’s small local businesses fight every day. People appreciate what we do, but some have lost sight of the bigger picture due to the enticements of online discounters and big box stores.
As a retailer, Kristi Mountain Sports only survives if we sell items for standard retail value. We strive to stock premium products, but the reality is the items we sell can [almost] always be found cheaper online. The profits we earn from regular-price retail sales allow us to keep our staff members consistently employed, host annual ski and bike movies, support local trail development projects, sponsor and help organize the 12 Hours of Penitence mountain bike race, support the Rio Grande County Rattlers high school mountain bike team, donate items/prizes to local organizations’ events and silent auctions… the list goes on and on.
This holiday season, please consider the bigger picture of who and what your dollars are supporting. Shopping with local retailers reciprocates support of the San Luis Valley Community – these businesses are owned by your kids’ soccer coaches; they employ your friends and family members; they donate money and items to community organizations; and they contribute time, effort, and energy to host events which add vibrancy to the fabric of our Valley. Has Amazon organized a local festival? Has REI contributed prizes to your child’s after-prom? The second we click “Checkout” online or drive to the city for a holiday shopping spree, our dollars leave this community and never return. This hurts our Valley and our home.
Kristi Mountain Sports is invested in the growth and vitality of the San Luis Valley, but we can only do it with the continued support of our customers. To those who have shopped with us for the past 35 years – we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. You are the reason our doors are still open!
Sincerely wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday season,
The Burt Family
Editor's Note: This is a guest opinion column submitted by The Burt Family.