A walk down 36th Street in Seattleâ€™s Fremont District is probably the easiest way to get a general idea of the cityâ€™s arts hub. Both sides of the street look similar in a stereotypical Seattle way. Coffee shop, art gallery, music lounge on the left – coffee shop, art gallery, indie music store on the right. These repeat in no particular order for several blocks. The sidewalk traffic of diverse urban identity leisurely flows through the businesses without discretion.
Finding the ski shop in this place is like a life-sized â€˜Whereâ€™s Waldoâ€™ page – and thatâ€™s by design. The storeâ€™s aesthetics reflect Fremont more than mountain life, unless youâ€™re from the Northwest. Then it looks like a cool ski shop. This idea is part of what makes the urban-contemporary themed [http://www.evogear.com evo] the epicenter of Pacific Northwest ski culture.
Evo’s in-house art gallery is home to First Friday Art shows every month.
Ask [http://www.evogear.com Evo] owner and [http://www.k2skis.com/athletes/bio.asp?name=bryce_phillips K2 Apache Team Rider, Bryce Phillips], if he considers his creation an art gallery, ski shop, movie venue or anything of the sort. Heâ€™ll tell you, â€œyes.â€
â€œItâ€™s a place that is meant to tie it all together and go way above and beyond the expectations that most have for any kind of retail environment,â€ said Bryce.
As much as [http://www.evogear.com evo] is a ski shop, it is an entertainment venue â€“ possibly more the latter. And that is according to plan from day one to fit in with its high-profile neighbors – Seattleâ€™s legendary High Dive, Triple Door, The Ballroom, Nectar Lounge and plethora of other world-renowned music venues. Tough crowd for a simple ski shop and itâ€™s been that way since word began circulating about its creation.
Far more than just a shop, [http://www.evogear.com evo] is a cultural hub for the Seattle snowsports community.
â€œ[http://www.evogear.com Evo] started as a way to help support my addiction to the ski and travel lifestyle,â€ said Bryce.
â€œIn Seattle we believed that there was a lack of a key anchor for the ski and snowboard community and we have worked very hard to be that anchor,â€ he added.
If expectations for [http://www.evogear.com evo] were low at best, Bryce blew them away â€“ only to establish a new standard. Most people really didnâ€™t know what to make of it.
â€œI first learned about [http://www.evogear.com evo] through rumors perpetuating around Washington,â€ said evo and [http://www.armadaskis.com Armada Skis] Team Rider Zach Davison.
â€œLike anything else, I was immediately skeptical of the hype the store was receiving. Later that year I got an invitation to come check out the grand opening party. When Talib Kweli showed up that evening, all hype was legitimized,â€ he added. Shortly afterward, Davison signed on to became one of the first athletes associated with [http://www.evogear.com evo].
Bringing an act like Talib Kweli to a ski shop is really even crazier than it sounds. [http://www.evogear.com Evo] made do with an emcee on the floor w/ a mike and a speaker. High-caliber acts require special lighting, acoustics, wiring and accessibility; everything down to air flow. [http://www.evogear.com Evo], much like its high-profile neighbors, now caters to those demands.
Retail presentation is art at [http://www.evogear.com evo].
The product floor is spacious, unlike many shops that pack a ton of product into a small space. Doors open on three sides, ushering in visitors and cool Seattle air for ventilation. The warehouse ceiling above the actual merchandise floor is lined with retractable lighting fixtures and high-powered heating elements. A large solid-white screen swings down against the front windows and every single rack in the entire joint is on wheels. An upstairs loft adds additional viewing and capacity for every event, along with additional lighting. This yearâ€™s Triple Threat even saw the introduction of a complimentary beer garden featuring local Pyramid Brewery beers, all on site.
The makings of a complimentary beer garden.
This current month is a perfect example of Bryceâ€™s vision for a dual-purpose retail space. The first Friday of every month is a Fremont-wide art walk. [http://www.evogear.com Evo] had a Nitro Snowboards art exhibit in the gallery, followed by their annual ski movie event, Triple Threat. The in-store art gallery walls were lined with local art and floor was packed with fans, film stars, industry insiders and local Seattle-ites who just wandered in. The following weekend brought [www.tannerhall.com Tanner Hall]â€™s latest film, The Massive, for another in-store premier. This last weekend saw a skateboard deck release party for ATM Clickâ€™s Josh Mohsâ€™ first pro deck and another movie showing. Next Thursday is another local movie premier, followed by another month of First Friday Art Walks, movie premiers and in-house art displays.
Each of the crowds on any of these nights is a large contribution to the unique feel of any [http://www.evogear.com evo] event. Much of the audience has no idea what to expect. Thatâ€™s why they come to the Fremont District searching for something different. Itâ€™s the perfect opportunity to showcase skiingâ€™s finest to mainstream urban America. Skiing, snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding and most other action sports are as different to the Fremont locals as some of their art is to any mountain population. The crowd is guaranteed diverse.
Bryce isn’t just a pretty face, the man can throw it down.
â€œFremont is a great place with an eclectic urban style,â€ said Bryce.
â€œArt, music, fashion and the sports we represent really fit well here. Itâ€™s also made of, and surrounded by, our customer and we knew that there was a great opportunity to set up shop in this part of Seattle knowing that weâ€™d be bringing something different to the area.”
All of our events, whether it be a ski movie premier (Triple Threat, The Massive, Nimbus) or a new clothing launch, are here in our Seattle store so you get the environment that evo offers while viewing and being a part of the ski community that youâ€™ll run into all over the local mountains,â€ he added.
Triple-Threat, one of many huge events at [http://www.evogear.com evo] – where the store turns into an entertainment venue.
After all the movies are over and the beer is gone, itâ€™s time to start thinking about selling product again. Ah, the business side of thingsâ€¦ This is what Bryce and his associates do to justify their skiing and snowboarding obsessions, and maybe make a living in an expensive city too. And believe it or not, even this is fun shop work with laughs and music over the same speakers from all the performances. These are the same people who were filling in as bar tenders, security, ticket and ID checkers, assistants chasing down everything from markers to drinks to stolen banners and running the control panel for the entire event.
Coffee in hand, everything is raised, lowered and rolled back out in about an hour by just two or three people before opening. Even faster than the bars still cleaning up from the previous night, [http://www.evogear.com evo]â€™s doors are open and business is usual.
No complaints in the upstairs offices from anyone as the computer keyboards start clicking and phones start ringing. Justin Donohue wears two hats as a marketing manager and events grand master â€“ a little more than he bargained for after leaving a successful marketing firm out of Chicago. It takes more than a good wage to get people like Justin to leave jobs like that and come to evo. The floor sales employees are always happy, and have nothing but great things to say about their employer. This is also part of the plan.
The lights go dim and the store returns to its normal state. No evidence of a party here.
â€œWe have a very driven, intelligent, enthusiastic and eccentric staff,â€ said Bryce.
â€œWe really want the personalities to come out at different points no matter the way you interact with us. Whether it be on the [web]site or at the store, all of the things people are up to above and beyond work is what we want people to know about. I personally find it super interesting to learn about a company and see all of the personalities behind the curtains. The people here at [http://www.evogear.com evo] play super hard but also want to work together to build a world renowned brand. It’s that balance that makes the people different,â€ he added.
After spending any time inside [http://www.evogear.com evo], 36th street and the surrounding Seattle Fremont District area look very different.
You can walk around the block from the store and stand at Pearl Jamâ€™s recording studio. From that same point you can see light gray clouds bringing feet of snow to the Olympic Mountains across the Puget Sound. Walk just a few blocks up the road and youâ€™ll see the same thing happening to Mt. Rainier and the Washington Cascades. If you canâ€™t stop by, check out [http://www.evogear.com www.evogear.com]. For more information on local Seattle music, check out [http://www.kexp.org www.kexp.org].
Bryce Phillips at North Cascade Heli
From [http://community.freeskier.com/profiles/profile.php?user_id=19680 Peak Performance].