Skiing, windsurfing and learning to kiteboard isn’t your average retirement plan but for Jim Attridge, who has spent much of his life outfitting other people for outdoor adventures, nothing could be sweeter.
Jim and his wife Ruth have owned Attridge, the popular snow, ski and wake shop, for 31 years and have become a fixture in the community.
Jim was born into Silver Star ski royalty. His dad, Bill Attridge, was one of the founders of Silver Star Mountain Resort and part of the mountain carries the Attridge name.
Jim and Ruth were high school sweethearts and have worked together to make their business successful. Now they’re ready to embrace the next phase of their lives and plan to spend more time with their three daughters and three grandchildren.
“I’m going to play a lot of mini golf with them,” he chuckles. “Not golf, mini golf.”
Jim started out his career at the age of 17, working at Karl’s Sports Haus in the old train station until it burned down in 1981. Karl’s Sport Haus then moved to the current Attridge location and Jim and Ruth bought the business from Karl in 1986 and the building a couple of years later.
“When we bought it, it was just an old house…there was a kitchen over there, bathroom over here,” Attridge said about the space that now showcases their many different ski and snowboard lines, clothing and accessories.
Jim has watched the sports of skiing and water skiing evolve during his career to include snowboarding, wakeboarding, wakesurfing and stand-up paddleboarding and he has made sure his shop has expanded to include the new trends.
“Back when I started, it was only skiing.”
Looking back, Jim is happy with his career choice even though he made it at such a young age.
“It’s been great. I got to stay in Vernon, raise my family here…and enjoy the lifestyle we have here.”
The Attridges have not left their loyal customers without their go-to shop before the ski season begins.
They have sold their business to a like-minded family whose passion for skiing and snowboarding runs deep.
Kyle and Melissa de Hrussoczy-Wirth took over ownership of Attridge Sept. 9.
The couple met in Lake Louise and have continued to work in the industry.
“I’ve worked at resorts for the last 20 years, all in and around products, rental, ski tuning and retail,” said Kyle.
The couple lived in Golden for 12 years, then made the move to Vernon five years ago, and Kyle has worked at the Silver Star ski and rental shop until recently.
“Most of my work experience has been in and around this, now owning it is the new part,” he said.
Melissa works in accounting at Silver Star Mountain Resort, which is valuable experience that will help the couple in their new business venture.
She will continue to work for Silver Star in the winter and Kyle will take on most of the day-to-day business operations at Attridge.
They have a busy, active life with two boys, Morgan, 12, and Myer, nine, who also enjoy skiing in the winter.
Kyle was born and raised in Chilliwack, and remembers shopping at Attridge in the late ’80s, as a kid while visiting his grandparents in Vernon. As he got older and started skiing and snowboarding at Silver Star, his memories of that time include trips to see Jim at the ski and board shop.
“Jim’s legacy in this town, the Attridge name, is skiing…I take that legacy seriously and I’m very proud to have this business. This business is known in all of B.C., within the industry. It’s a fine example of a ski shop,” said Kyle.
Customers will continue to see familiar faces when they visit the shop because all the staff is staying on. Cam Sorensen and Chris Church have worked at Attridge for 24 years and the knowledgeable staff has been a huge key to Attridge’s success.
“Jim’s built this business on service,” said Kyle, who believes there is a future in small business. “People want connections with people and they want to be able to touch and feel product. We are that community hub for skiing and snowboarding.”
Kyle said he is happy to learn from Jim’s team and wants to maintain the ways of the shop more than change. He’s grateful for the strong relationship he and Melissa have with Jim and Ruth and is thankful for all the support they have provided during the transition.
“I really want to thank all our customers for their support over the years,” said Jim.
“Parents came in with their little wee kids, now these little wee kids are coming in with their kids…made me think maybe I should retire,” Jim said with a grin.