Many successful local businesses began as pipe dream, and Black Tie Ski Rentals Whistler was no exception. From humble beginnings of two guys driving around Whistler delivering rental equipment in the fall of 2010, this locally owned and operated company has grown into one of Whistler’s leading ski rental companies. The rental fleet for the 2016/17 season now consists of over 1,000 pairs of skis and the company has now expanded into a storefront location in the Upper Village at the base of Blackcomb.
We sat down with Director of Sales and Marketing Matt Bennett to hear about where Black Tie Whistler has come from, where it’s going and how the new storefront complements the company’s specialty of ski rental delivery.
Owner Todd Williamson and yourself started the business quite small, what were the first couple of seasons like?
Matt: Both Todd and I had a background in outdoor tourism, so we parlayed our customer service skills to provide a higher level of service to ski rental guests. That first year we answered all the phone calls ourselves, we’d write down reservations on any scraps of paper we had in the van and would sometimes get friends to come around and help us tune skis. We had a fleet of about 150 skis and about 35 snowboards at that point, so we did all our ski tuning and waxing by hand. Both Todd and I operated on the policy that the guest’s needs always came first, no matter how inconvenient is was for the two of us. That’s been our key to the continuous growth of the business.
Black Tie Ski Rentals is marketed as ski rental delivery service, what led you to opening a storefront in the Upper Village this season?
Matt:We are constantly looking for ways to make the guests’ lives easier, so we couldn’t ignore the need for slopeside storage for the equipment we deliver to people’s chalets and hotel rooms. By letting our guests store their skis as close to the bottom of the mountain as possible, we’d be adding another layer of service that we didn’t have before. That prompted us to seek out a location closer to the slopes.
The interior design of the Upper Village location is quite different from your typical ski rental shop. What was motivation for that?
Matt: We wanted to do something unique and within our framework of providing the highest level of service possible. That’s why we went with a more relaxed layout with comfortable couches instead of benches and our technicians are with you from the when you first walk in until you carry your gear out to go skiing. We’ve been fitting people for ski gear in their living rooms for years now, this is now a chance for the guests to come get fitted for gear in our living room.
Whistler has quite a crowded ski rental scene. What sets Black Tie Ski Rentals apart from its competitors?
Matt: We take pride in focusing on guest satisfaction rather than volume of customers. Renting gear has a reputation for being the worst part of the ski vacation experience, so every day we do everything in our power to dispel that notion and make the process as easy and painless as possible. Whistler has an impeccable level of guest service in the accommodation and dining sectors, and we felt equipment rentals should be held to that same high standard. We also cultivate a good work/life balance with our staff by making sure they have ample time to go skiing and snowboarding and get them together for parties and summer activities like softball games.
In addition to fitting and storage, our new storefront also has a great selection of accessories for sale like gloves, goggles, hats, helmets socks and base layers. We only pick the best gear for our walls and try to support companies that help support the ski and snowboard industries.
Come check out the new store in the Upper Village at the base of Blackcomb Mountain (located in the Chamois Hotel across from Fairmont Chateau) and let our friendly staff take care of your ski rental needs. And as always, you can call us on (604) 966-2122 and we’ll bring the gear to your chalet or hotel room.