Rocky Mountain Underground opens 1st combo ski shop, bar in Breckenridge
RMU Main Street soft opening
What: A pre-season opening for the new Rocky Mountain Underground showroom on Main Street, held a few weeks before the projected opening of the attached RMU bar in mid-November
When: Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.
Where: 114 S. Main St. in Breckenridge
After the soft opening, the RMU showroom will remain open for the rest of the ski season. The bar is expected to start serving around the same time as Breckenridge Resort’s opening day. For more info on the new space and RMU products, see http://www.rmuoutdoors.com.
Walk inside one of two front doors at 114 S. Main Street in Breckenridge and you’d swear that Mike Waesche, co-founder of local ski manufacturer and lifestyle brand Rocky Mountain Underground, has a case of schizophrenia.
Take the left door and you’re brought inside RMU’s brand-new showroom, a 1,000-square-foot space lit from above by chandeliers hanging from the same warped, wooden planks that once covered the floor. The new floor is now hand-laid brick, like the kind you find inside most of downtown Breck’s oldest buildings. The upside-down effect gives off strong M.C. Escher vibes.
“Reuse in building is a big deal for us,” Waesche said as he showed me around the new space, explaining how the rustic wooden interior is also built with the bones of old trade-show booths. “There’s the sustainable aspect there.”
Smack in the middle of the showroom is a wooden stand littered with RMU product. The stand actually came from Waesche’s old deck — yet another touch of sustainability-slash-cost cutting — and it’s surrounded on all sides by skis, packs, hats and other gear from RMU, plus jackets, pants and sunglasses from fellow Colorado companies like Strafe outerwear of Aspen and Zeal Optics of Boulder. Behind the counter at the back of the room is an in-house ski press, where Waesche and crew plan to give ski-pressing demonstrations when the new storefront opens on Sept. 30, and all winter after that. Hell, they’ll even press a custom pair of skis right there, in-house, while you grab a bite to eat on Main.
Take the right door, though, and you’re brought inside a chaotic cluster of wooden beams, unhung signs, exposed brick and serpentine wires. Come opening day at Breckenridge — well, sometime around No. 11, give or take a few days — this 700-square-foot space will open as the town’s first (and only) combination ski shop and bar.
Yep, that’s right — RMU’s new digs feature a ski shop on the left and a full-service bar on the right. In mid-September the bar was a work in progress, with Miller High Life cans scattered through the construction supplies, but Waesche and his partners already have big plans for the space, starting with pours from New Belgium, a longtime partner. There’s also talk of a wine list built with bottles from regions they’ve visited for ski trips — France, Italy, South America — but until then, High Life is the drink of choice.
“The culture piece has always been appealing to us,” Waesche said, mentioning how hourly ski-town jobs like construction and masonry came in handy when the RMU crew remodeled the space by hand, with hardly any help from contractors. “We’ve talked about our days in the garage, making skis for beer, and this is just the next step. It’s the culture, the socials idea of things and it makes our company what it is.”
Moving up Main
For the past four years, RMU world headquarters has been a few blocks south on Main Street at the intersection of Park and Main. This prime location helped the company grow from pressing skis for beer to selling thousands of models per year, Waesche said, but he and his partners were always on the lookout for something bigger, something better — something that involved beer.
“I’m proud of our company and our team because we don’t sit still,” Waesche said after finishing the tour and taking a seat behind the retail counter. “We could’ve stayed with skis, but this path is unique because we don’t just make skis. We’re also a bar now and we make dog collars, and it comes back to living here — the Breckenridge lifestyle. Maybe we’re just doing whatever we want, who knows?”
Before finding the new space in June, RMU considered opening a showroom attached to a bar and full-sized ski factory. They checked out locations in Frisco and Silverthorne, but when the Main Street space opened up, they couldn’t pass the chance to stay in their hometown of Breckenridge.
“One of the things I’m proud of with the RMU culture is that it is inviting,” Waesche said. “It’s been friends since day one. This is like a garage, only bigger and on Main Street.”
RMU’s move hasn’t slowed the company’s main business of ski manufacturing. The women’s Valhalla, designed and built by crowd-sourcing comments from local skiers, earned a 2016-17 Editor’s Choice award from Powder magazine, and the men’s North Shore won yet another batch of awards.
“But meh,” Waesche said. “The North Shore is always winning things.”
While the ski business takes care of itself, Waesche and Co. are getting anxious for the upcoming season. They recently hired Jessie Unruh of the Breckenridge Tourism Office for local marketing and are ready to launch the CorePak 35, a backcountry pack made with recycled ski cores in the frame. It’s not quite like gluing the floor to the ceiling, but the upcycling idea is the same.
“It’s been a stressful couple of months,” Waesche said, “But why is a ‘microbrewski’ company better than the big guys? What makes this craft beer so special, or this ski? That’s what we want to show people.”
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