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Blind faith 

Jon Easdon turned a belief in the little things into two big Best Of wins

Place to Buy Snowboards

Place to Buy Skateboards

Blindside

293 S. 21st St., 636-1554

blindsidecolorado.com

Last winter, Jon Easdon began plenty of days at 4 a.m., waxing skis and snowboards in the small back room of his shop. Some of those days, in fact, would build on top of one another, into 80-hour weeks.

Facing another one of those frigid January mornings, you'd think Easdon would tap someone to help. In fact, he'd already spent a couple months training a friend, who'd previously worked in other shops, how to wax equipment for Blindside.

But, no.

"He's been training training with me to tune skis and snowboards for a year," Easdon said in September. "And he still doesn't work here. That's how important it is to me."

If you're looking for a single reason why Blindside, in under a year of business, has ascended to the top of the snowboard and skateboard categories in our Best Of Colorado Springs readers' poll, it might be best put this way: Easdon considers small things like how to apply wax by hand, to make it smoother and longer-lasting to be very important. And apparently, a lot of other people do, too.

"I had two ski patrol guys from Steamboat, their mom was in a nursing home down here," says Easdon, remembering last winter. "They'd come down every two weeks to see her, and they'd bring their whole quiver of skis with them. That spoke volumes to me."

Easdon, 33, has worked on every side of the ski and snowboard industry. After attending Woodland Park High School in the early '90s, he followed a friend to work for a snowboard manufacturer in Fairplay. He fell in love with riding and stayed in that job for five years. Since then, he's worked for shops big and small, corporate and independent, most recently Colorado Kite & Ski on Highway 24.

Along the way, Easdon started thinking about how he'd set up his own shop. Early last year, he took the step of asking a friend to help him with a business plan, which went something like this: emphasize snowboards and skis in the winter, skateboards in the summer and product knowledge and customer service year-round. He found an investor, jammed equipment into what had been a small cell phone store, and opened Blindside.

One thing was clear from the start: No one at his shop would work on commission. (Granted, the only employees were him and a part-time sales associate, but still.)

"Right off the bat, [commission] puts an evil element in the experience," Easdon says. He adds, "If you come in and I say, 'Hey, how's it going, can I help you?' and you say, 'No, just looking,' I'm not going to follow you around and ask you if I can show you this or that."

If you've been shadowed around a store before, you know this matters.

"We've had e-mails from a few of his customers who have developed a loyalty to his shop because he's really listening and paying attention to their needs, not just pushing to make a sale," says Lisa Branner, one of the owners of Venture Snowboards, in an e-mail to the Independent. "It's more of a relationship."

Venture and Blindside have a unique relationship of their own. Easdon admires the Silverton company a true mom-and-pop, in which Branner's the "mom" for building its own green factory. (Easdon's devotion to environmental causes extends to using a soy-based wax, with no perfluorocarbons, on every ski and snowboard.) Last year, he held a demo day with Venture at Monarch Ski Resort and chartered a bus for his customers, so they could try out Venture products. By giving curious customers a chance to ride Venture boards, he helped the small, relatively little-known company become the best-selling one in his shop.

Of course, Easdon says he wouldn't sell Venture equipment if it didn't "ride like a dream."

"Everything that's in the store skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, outerwear, everything from sunglasses to goggles to socks, is tested by me, by my team riders, by someone who's involved with the shop before it's in the door," Easdon says.

That's a lot of snapping, buckling and shredding: Even as the economy has spooked other shops into cutting back, Easdon's upped his ski and snowboard inventory 70 percent over last winter. He acknowledges it's a fairly big risk, but says any fear he feels is a "motivating kind of fear," like he had when he first opened the shop.

"I believe my philosophy in this store is true," Easdon says. "And if I'm remaining true to that philosophy, I don't see how this can fail."

  • Blindside, after less than a year, rules the snowboard and skateboard categories.

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