Snowboard experts ramp up for winter
Online business led to Wired Sport in Wood Village
Snowboarders spend the summer and early fall itching for the first snowfall of the winter sports season.
Then, they get wired.
'When you learn a new move in boarding, it's called 'getting it wired,' ' said Randy Strome, owner of Wired Sport in Wood Village. 'Everyone here is stoked about riding and has been dong it for a long time. Our whole idea is to find someone just learning the sport and put great equipment under their feet. We want to get everyone wired about snowboarding.'
The newly opened sports equipment store caters to those who find 'shreddin' the gnar' nirvana. Snowboards, in every color and design, line the pine walls like picket fence boards, while breathtaking action photos of those cruisin' through pristine powder tease enthusiasts. It's also a gathering place to talk shop, brag a little and see the latest and greatest in board technology.
Wired Sport is Mecca for rookies and seasoned boarders alike.
Strome is a longtime Gresham resident, whom some might recognize as owner of the former resale equipment shop, Great Comeback Sports. That store spent six years on Southeast Burnside Road in Gresham, offering gently used winter sports equipment before Strome sold it in 2000.
Sensing an increase in the popularity of snowboarding in the late 1990s, Strome launched Wired Sport online in 1998. Selling new equipment directly to the customer built a clientele that has gradually led to the sale of more than 7,000 snowboards annually. Strome's online success gave birth to the storefront in Wood Village, which has enabled him to house both sides of the business under one roof.
'We sold 7,300 boards last year, and we've been at that volume for the last three years,' Strome said. 'But it's really been ramping up every year for 12 years. When people go to a board shop, they're going to pay board-shop prices. Our prices in the store are the same as they are online. We carry boards in every size and the same with bindings, so when you walk out of here, you'll have everything you need.'
Equipment on hand
Unlike other sporting good suppliers, who dabble in a little of everything, Wired Sport is dedicated to boarding. Shelves are stocked with more than 140 models of snowboards and 130 models of bindings, with waxing, repair and edge sharpening services available on-site as well. The store is also boasts a staff totally smitten by the sport and knowledgeable in board construction.
Marketing Director Luke Balbo, 23, is a Michigan native, who moved to the metro area earlier this year, drawn by the year-round snowboarding opportunities on Mount Hood. A former snowboard instructor, Balbo has worked with skateboarders looking to transition from the street to the snow, inspired by the aerials and jumps by professionals like Shaun White. Rookies, Balbo said, can be easily discouraged by the mechanical differences and physical challenges of snowboarding, and often give up too soon.
'When you're learning to snowboard, the first three days are the days you'll pay your dues,' Balbo said. 'It's torture. You'll be sore from falling, but after that, something just clicks. It becomes a very natural movement. Snowboarding is all about how your board flexes. That's what controls your speed, turning and ollieing (popping the board off the snow). Lessons are the best way to learn how your board works.'
Casual visitors to Wired Sport can't help but be lured in by the passion of the resident boarders or the notion of a blissful ride down the slopes. The next best thing to a good day on the mountain, Strome said, is the wild-eyed enthusiasm of a newbie.
'What stokes us out is the person who's just learning,' he said. 'It's hitting that kid out there who is like we were once, and getting them out on the snow, on the highest quality gear that will not become outdated with performance after a few seasons. We want people to walk out of here totally overwhelmed. That's the reaction we're going for - blown away by what they've seen and what we have.'
WhAT: Wired Sport
Where: 393 N.E. 223rd Ave., Wood Village
What: Seasonal boarding equipment, featuring snowboards in winter, wake boards and skateboards in summer; on-site waxing, repair and edge sharpening available; snowboard equipment packages (boots, bindings and board) start at $249.00; sign up for Wired Sport's mailing list and be eligible for win a free snowboard.
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.