Specialty ski shops exist for a reason: They balance the best and most-respected products with the best possible service, creating an experience the customer will rely on forever. The new archetype for this kind of shop is Ski AK. The 1000-square-foot space is located in the historic Spenard district of Anchorage, and is the go-to for skiers of all creeds—beginners to pros, ski teams to backcountry.
Owner Fred Parke is a retired investment manager who never lost a passion for skiing. Growing up in southern California, he learned how to edge on his home hill of Mammoth. Since moving to Anchorage, he’s been able to create a lifestyle that allows him to stay close to the mountains. And his shop is the proof.
Employing only a streamlined staff, including a storied boot fitter and a 30-year veteran ski tuning pro, Parke strives to address any issue or questions his customers may possess. “We have the skill set to solve just about any problem related to skis and boots,” says Parke. With modest retail space, the Ski AK atmosphere is intimate, which Parke likes. “It allows to have meaningful interactions with our customers,” he says.
And the meaningful interactions extend well beyond Ski AK shop goers. For starters, Ski AK sponsors all of the junior race programs in the area. They also sponsor local freestyle athletes, and donate time and money to the Alyeska Ski Club. For the last two years, Ski AK has also assisted “Challenge Alaska,” a special needs event at Alyeska Resort.
Ski AK is seeing high growth these days, and that’s a good thing. And where they’re seeing it is in the wild snow around the greater Anchorage area. Backcountry skiing is showing a growing demographic all over the US, and is definitely blooming at Ski AK. “The backcountry sector is growing fast,” says Parke. “It’s becoming very popular. You’ve got 15-year-old boys getting backcountry setups. And that’s definitely a new thing.”