It comes as no surprise that growing up in the midst of the Green Mountains, Forrest Shinners would end up in the ski business. Add the fact that his parents owned a ski shop themselves and it would seem Shinners would never have had to leave his native Stowe, Vermont.
The “Aha” Moment
But despite loving the mountains and being an avid skier, Shinners wasn’t sure that staying at home and joining his parents in the family business was his best option. Being good at math, and perhaps wanting to check out life in the Big Apple, after college he started working in the financial arena in New York City.
It didn’t take long, however, for him to realize that he was on the wrong path. His career was providing him with financial security, and life in New York was certainly exciting, but it didn’t provide him with the happiness that he remembered from flying down the slopes back home or the chance to partner with others in giving back to the community. Describing his decision to return to Vermont and start his own business, he admits that it didn’t seem much like a feasible challenge, but more like scaling a personal Mt. Everest. (Start Up Nation, 6/10/19).
In the back of his mind was the time when a friend showed up in Vermont in the middle of winter wearing just sneakers and jeans. Shinners was helping outfit him from the collection of ski clothing that resided in the family closets. The family had their own business and were avid skiers, so the clothing and equipment was plentiful and of high quality. His friend remarked how cool this was and said “you should charge for this!”
Why Rent Ski Clothes?
We’ve all seen those SUVs on the highway with numerous pairs of skis strapped to the top and the back of the vehicle stuffed to the gills with jackets, boots, and all the other gear necessary to enjoy the slopes. The appropriate clothing and boots needed during the winter are extremely important, not just so you look good on the slopes, but more importantly so that you are able to keep warm enough and protected from the weather. If you are a professional skier or snowboard enthusiast, the expense of getting your own high-quality gear and whatever hassle there might be in taking it with you is probably worth it. But what if you are:
- A novice skier who isn’t sure how long you will stick with it?
- Someone who only skies once or twice a year?
- A parent of young children who will get too big for the clothes long before they have gotten full use of it?
- A resident of a warm climate who has to travel long distances to ski and would rather avoid the hassle of storing it throughout the year and then getting it on the plane or stuffed in the back of a rental car?
The Kit Lender Advantage
Most ski areas rent clothing, but the quality and availability is not guaranteed. Kit Lender operates on the philosophy that when you are kitted out in great quality gear, your experience will be that much better. Their goal is to make available to everyone the same gear that is used by the pros, and they add new styles every season.
Not only is the clothing of high quality and updated, but the ease of getting it and returning it is a high priority. Kit Lender will ship a customer’s order directly to their ski resort destination, and provides pre-addressed packaging for returning the gear after use. Simply drop the package off at the front desk and be on your way.
Kit Lender Gear
Kit Lender provides both rental gear and items for purchase:
- Jackets & Ski Pants
- Hats, Socks, and Thermal Underwear for purchase only.
The items are available in several different levels of warmth and for sizes from toddler through adult and from manufacturers such as Patagonia, North Face, and Obermeyer.
Paying it Forward
Shinners readily admits that he was initially unsure if he was completely prepared to create and run a business. Looking back five years later he realizes that probably very few people feel completely ready to take such a big step and sometimes you just have to “jump” and accept the fact that mistakes will be made. But Shinners says that being an entrepreneur gives him the freedom to support causes like Knights of Heroes that organizes trips for children of parents who have died serving our country. When you own your own business, he says, the opportunities are virtually endless.