Hey, Spike! finds another Midwesterner calling Colorado home
Special to the Daily
Minnesota native Richard Allen’s story is typical of many Midwesterners who end up in the mountains of Colorado.
“I was raised in Excelsior, Minnesota, in a home on Lake Minnetonka, with three brothers and two sisters,” he explains. “We spent our time sailing in the summer and playing hockey on the lake in the winter.”
Small world side note: Hey, Spike!‘s niece and nephew, Betsy and Mike Sluis (active in the Excelsior Chamber) and the baby Marit, boat ‘tonka regularly on their Trojan 36, the “Sluis Goose.”
Now, back to the Allens.
Thrown into the Allen family mix of recreational activities were annual ski trips to Colorado.
“My dad was a ski bum and brought us out to ski every winter, during which time I fell in love with Colorado. Every year we drove out from Minnesota in a station wagon with my parents, five siblings and oftentimes a friend. So I relocated to Colorado as soon as I could.”
That move westward came in 1976 — to Aspen.
An expert skier, Richard says, “My skiing adventures have taken me all around the USA, western Canada and Europe. I have enjoyed almost every ski area in Colorado, the main ski areas of Utah, Wyoming’s Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, Idaho, Oregon’s Mt. Hood, Crystal Mountain in Washington, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, heli-skiing in the Bugaboos of Canada, Chamonix, France, St. Moritz and Zermatt in Switzerland and Courmayeur, Italy.
“After choosing to live in Aspen, I started a carpet cleaning business to support myself,” he says. “In 1989, I moved to Carbondale, as it was the only place affordable to purchase a home.”
Sounds familiar, right?
Richard’s story continues:
“In 1992, I retired at 40 years old and bought a ranch in Pagosa Springs. My family and I played cowboys and I taught skiing at Wolf Creek. In 1999, my son, Eric, wanted to go to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School located in Carbondale, so I moved back here.”
His other son, Jesse, lives in Mexico.
When moving his huge collection of vintage ski memorabilia from Pagosa Springs, back to Carbondale, Richard decided to create a business with these items, in part to pay for his storage lockers.
“In 2002, we built our first website, which has evolved to now have around 1,100 products. A couple of years later, I was approached by my neighbor about the opportunity to have a store in Aspen, next to the historic Red Onion Bar and Restaurant. We enjoyed that adventure until the rent ($15,000 a month) was too high to allow us much profit,” Richard explains, who lists his title as “SkiEO.”
Richard’s still living in Carbondale, but has expanded his successful Vintage Ski World business to Frisco’s Antique Emporium (home to Prosit), owned by Rob Philippe and managed by country-western singer Jackie Crandall, who fronts the Blue River Band.
“Our store in Frisco is a recent addition to my adventures in the retail aspect of Vintage Ski World. My friend and fellow collector, Jonathan Pound, was aware of the passing of Fred Swanson. We had been providing products for many years to Fred, who had the store in the Frisco Emporium for nearly 30 years. Since his products were so sought after by his customer base, we negotiated a contract with Rob to take over Fred’s space and continue to make this product line available,” Richard explains.
Jonathan, a Dillon and Crested Butte resident, is a Net Jet pilot whose schedule allows him to support Richard at the Frisco store.
Their Vintage Ski World locates “unique, exciting, vintage ski-related items to enhance any decor, provide special gifts, and supply a treasure trove for collectors of vintage ski products.”
“We preserve the history of skiing, by finding classic images and ski equipment that enliven the memories, stories, joy and passion of skiing,” Richard explains. “We sell and ship our products around the world through our online store (www.vintageskiworld.com) and our Amazon store,” notes Richard.
They sell ski posters (the Lange girls are popular), wooden skis and poles, leather boots, 10th Mountain Division gear, ski area patches, furniture made from skis, you name it.
Vintage Ski World also utilizes its collection of skiwear and accessories for vintage-ski theme parties, fashion shows for ski resort anniversary parties and vintage-ski races.
Richard even provides rentals of vintage clothing and props for the movie industry (like, the “Hot Tub Time Machine”); TV shows (“Mad Men”), advertisements (Ralph Lauren); magazines (“Alister and Paine” and “Mountain Living”); or for decorating retail stores (Abercrombie and Fitch).
Richard supplied two Whole Foods Markets — Frisco and Basalt — the Roaring Fork Valley store with 40 pairs of skis for a display over the coffee bar and for the outside sandwich boards.
Locally, Richard and Jonathan sold the popular chain store ski-theme decorations.
“We supplied skis for the sandwich boards as well as skis and snowboards near the front of the store for signs and the skis by the dining area and bathrooms,” he says. “We also supplied the sailcloth for the lights over the eating area.”
As for the expansion to Frisco, Richard shares, “I have fallen in love with the town of Frisco and have made many great friends. I look forward each week to spending time at the Emporium on Saturdays and some Sundays. Stop by and say hi.”
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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