Skookum Bike and Ski’s Salmon Arm’s new owner has long been part of the Skookum family.
Tom Peasgood and Greg Scharf opened Salmon Arm’s Skookum Cycle and Ski Ltd. in the early 2000s, and in 2008 opened a second location in Revelstoke. Mike Gravelle said he began working at the Revelstoke Skookum in 2010, and in 2012 bought 100 per cent of the shares from Peasgood and Scharf. In taking over the store, Gravelle did not change its name – Skookum Cycle and Ski Ltd. in Salmon Arm had a neighbour a little over an hour away named Skookum Revelstoke Bike and Ski Ltd.
The similarly named shops caused a bit of confusion over the years, said Gravelle, who now owns both stores, having recently bought out his former employers in Salmon Arm. He has since named both stores Skookum Bike and Ski, to streamline the business.
News the Salmon Arm store was under new ownership was first released via Facebook on Nov. 8, with a post stating the United Sports Is Dangerous Corp. Ltd. was buying Skookum in Salmon Arm. Gravelle explained that is not a real company, but something an employee made up and posted. To gauge community reaction to the new ownership, Gravelle ran with it and allowed people time to adjust to the former owners leaving and the idea of someone new coming in. It also gave Gravelle time to prepare the new logo and business name, and combine the online stores.
Product can be transferred between the stores and is done so weekly, and shoppers can browse both locations online at skookumgear.ca to see what inventory either store has. Gravelle is also bringing in new brands for cyclists and skiers, noting the stores’ inventories have tripled.
Gravelle is hoping to offer a better selection to Salmon Arm and Revelstoke residents to reduce their need to drive to Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops for other shops. He has a ready team of customer service staff at both shops and plans to renovate the Salmon Arm bike mechanic service station.
Gravelle was raised with the recreation business. He said his parents did a lot of community work with minor sports and he’s been an avid skier and cyclist for most of his life. He has 25 years of experience in the ski industry and 11 years in the cycling industry.
“I’m not here to just sell people stuff,” said Gravelle. “We’re here to help them recreate. Through our programs and donations to the community, I think it’s pretty clear that’s what we do.”
Gravelle also said that with the demographic of Salmon Arm getting younger, he’s excited to provide that active population with the supplies they need to get outdoors.
The community is excited that a former employee and someone who knows the store well was able to buy the Salmon Arm store, and that it didn’t go to someone who isn’t local bought out by a big corporation, Gravelle said, also expressing his own excitement.
While he lives in Revelstoke, Gravelle said he has a great team to run the Salmon Arm store and he said he loves the city.
“Salmon Arm reminds me of my hometown, with the beautiful, happy, laid back people, people who have time for you and stop and talk to you,” said Gravelle.
Skookum Bike and Ski Salmon Arm is looking to hire a few more staff members, and Gravelle is passionate about training and working with high school aged kids to get them prepared for a possible career in retail.