SuperShops: zAKs Boardroom
|SuperShops is brought to you by Arnette and highlights the best core retail shops in snowboarding.|
With most successful shops, they are great because they have managed to outperform the competition, pump out pro riders or have a location by a top resort. zAKs Boardroom out of Anchorage, AK is different. Just like the dudes making first descents in the Alaskan frontier, zAKs is unable to rely on anyone but themselves.
Before zAKs there was no core board shop and no massive resort drawing worldwide crowds. Aside from pros quietly annihilating the far reaches of the state, there was no real snowboard presence in Alaska — until zAKs. “In Alaska, we’re in our own planet from the rest of the industry. We’re our own little niche out here. There wasn’t much of a scene here before the shop. We’ve sort of had to build it,” says shop manager and event coordinator, Will Ingram.
Founded by the late John “Zak” Kaercher in 2008, the guys running the shop are not only surviving to pay the bills, but to keep Zak’s legacy going. “I wish we could see where we would be if Zak were still here,” says manager Bobby Gunderson. From the beginning, Zak’s focus was to be a core shop which carries the best products, has high-class presentation and ideals, which the shop continues to honor. “For us it is a personalized thing. We take customer service very seriously and we are honest with our customers,” Gunderson says. “If we don’t have something that the customer needs or wants, I will let them know where they can find it.”
Many shops, big or small, are regularly using branded displays, posters and other store features that are covered with brand names other than their own. With respect to Zak’s idea of a shop that displays things correctly, all displays are custom made and unique to their shop alone. “We really focus on presentation and making sure everything looks really good,” says Ingram. “Presentation is definitely crucial, that was the mission right from the get go. We keep the store looking good and clean.”
While they are responsible for sales of nearly all the high-end gear in the Anchorage area, the guys at zAKs are also heavily involved with the community, zAKs buyer and manager, Travis Anderson explains: “We have put a lot into it, in terms of the community. We realized we can’t just be here and offer the stuff. We want to give back and keep kids into it.”
Unlike some shops in the lower 48 that are able to be a part of big sponsored events for being in the right area, zAKs has had to coordinate every snowboard and skate event that happens in Anchorage. “We don’t have huge events here and have had to kind of do it ourselves; everything from video premiers to competitions,” says Ingram.
There is a consensus at zAKs that aside from carrying an insane amount of product, organizing the snowboard scene of Anchorage and keeping a fresh appearance, the reason they have survived is simply because of the support of the Alaskan locals. “Alaska is really cool about supporting locally. We’ve got a good supportive scene of skaters and snowboarders that appreciate how it works,” says Gunderson.
Above all the folks at zAKs are stoked to be a part of the shop. “We’re so thankful to Zak for starting the business, the guys that are still helping run the place and the customers. Instead of shopping at the big box stores, for them to be coming here means something,” says Anderson.