Vail Resorts buys out Gart Brothers
Denver’s Gart family is exiting its iconic sporting-goods business after an 82-year run.Vail Resorts Inc. said Thursday it is buying out the Garts’ share of Specialty Sports Venture, a firm that had been jointly owned by the family and Vail.Vail Resorts will pay $31 million to the Garts for the 30 percent share of Specialty Sports that it doesn’t already own.Ken Gart, president of the 145-store firm, described the sale as “a bittersweet moment for … our family.”Specialty Sports operates Colorado Ski & Golf, Bicycle Village and dozens of retail and rental shops in Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone, Aspen and Telluride, as well as resorts in Utah, Nevada and California.Brothers Ken and Tom Gart will continue to manage Gart Properties, owner of the Denver Pavillions retail center and several other commercial properties in Colorado.Gart Bros. Sporting Goods was founded in Denver by the brothers’ grandfather, Nathan Gart, in 1928.The family sold its retail operations in 1986 to Thrifty Corp. It built a new chain of sporting-good stores in the early 1990s and merged it with ski-area owner Vail Resorts in 1998.Specialty Sports Venture has annual sales of about $180 million.The firm’s management will be taken over by Kat Jobanputra, who has served under the Garts as executive vice president and chief operating officer of Specialty Sports.The firm’s headquarters and 52 corporate employees will be transferred this fall from a Cherry Creek North office building to Vail Resorts’ offices at the Interlocken business park in Broomfield.”Ken and Tom Gart have been terrific partners with our company for over 12 years and have been largely responsible for the incredible growth and performance of Specialty Sports Venture over that time period,” said Rob Katz, chairman and chief executive officer of Vail Resorts.
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