In his own words: Bobos owner Steve Sheehan

Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Bobos and the duties of your position.

Steve Sheehan: Bobos is a bit of an anomaly in the world of business today because it is a specialty shop, of which there are fewer and fewer in America and the world. Because there are fewer, the ones that do last seem to be more specialized in taking care of the whole gamut, whether it’s the kids programs, or women skiers who are new to the sport or men and women who are up there in the performance category. That goes for skiing and snowboarding. We specialize in everything for the beginner to the expert skier. Bobos is geared to taking care of the whole family — last year we won the top family ski shop award by the Ski Industry of America at the SA show in Denver. That is not the first award we have won. My duties here are numerous, but basically MBWA … I manage by wandering around.

NNBW: How did you get into this profession?

Sheehan: I was 15, and I had no choice. My parents built the store, and I enjoyed skiing. We bought the store from my parents in 1984.

NNBW: What’s behind the name?

Sheehan: When we first started in 1969 we were called Reno Ski Shop. I thought it was really important for people to know about my dad, Bobo. We changed our name to Bobos when we were at 1507 S. Wells Ave. For the next 17 or so years we were at 1200 S. Wells, and that’s where a lot of people came to know Bobos. In 1990, the ski and patio store Mogul Mouse because available, and we purchased it. We didn’t really need a ski shop but we needed a summer business. I also wanted to move off of Wells and onto Moana Lane because this was a better revenue-stream street. I could see this town was moving south.

NNBW: People often think that owning or working at a ski shop means you ski all the time — is that a misconception?

Sheehan: Yes. When you own a ski shop, you work hard to make sure all the other skiers get out first. I usually don’t start skiing until after Jan. 1. We get our fair share of skiing — most of the time it’s testing out new equipment to see what’s coming out the next year.

NNBW: In the many decades you’ve run the store, what’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the industry?

Sheehan: The advent of snowboarding, and more recently, the development of shaped technology in skiing and snowboarding. And boots are more comfortable now than ever before.

NNBW: What impact did the opening of big-box retailers have on your business, and what strategies did you employ to counter their entry in the marketplace?

Sheehan: They affected our market share. The perception is that they are lower price, and in fact, that’s not the case. They aren’t any lower. They do offer a greater selection of bottom-of-the-food-chain products, so they look like they are lower. We sell the whole gamut: low-, medium- and high-price. It’s challenging to compete against bigger retailers. We have noticed that a lot of them come into our store and take a look around and see what we are doing because they know we have tested the grounds and know what the answers are. They have incredible buying power, sometimes better than ours. However, we are part of wa pretty powerful buying group of 67 professional ski shops, and it allows us to be as strong in buying power as they are.

NNBW: Is this the career you had envisioned for yourself?

Sheehan: I had no idea what my career was going to be. I enjoy skiing and being outdoors and any kind of sports, so being able to love what I do and having a passion for your business is what you want. I am fortunate to have that.

NNBW: Do you have a favorite memory in the business?

Sheehan: I enjoy the kids, seeing them light up to look at a new pair of skis or try on a new boot. I like to see the smiles on the kids’ faces; they come in with such great attitudes.

NNBW: What’s the hardest part about running a ski shop?

Sheehan: Convincing the public that the Internet is not the best deal. They come in price shopping with their iPhones, and we can compete with the prices on the Internet; that’s not the problem. It can’t compete with us on the knowledge and expertise of fitting and knowing the correct product. That is the big difference.

NNBW: Have you ever snowboarded, and what’s your favorite: skiing or snowboarding?

Sheehan: Oh yeah, for 15 years! I enjoyed it. I’ve come back to skiing because I was a snowboarder who used poles. I didn’t have to unclip to get from point A to point B, and that was nice — I enjoyed snowboarding with poles.

NNBW: What was your first job?

Sheehan: When I was 15 I got a job at Hidden Valley raking sand traps on the golf course. I moved up to mowing greens and changing cups.

NNBW: Tell us about your dream job. Why aren’t you working it?

Sheehan: I’m living the dream.

NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?

Sheehan: I like to ski in the winter and play golf in the summer. I enjoy boating with my family and time on the beaches at Lake Tahoe is always nice.

NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?

Sheehan: No. I’m not ready to retire. I’m young enough to enjoy the business, and I love working with the staff that we have. The people that work in this store are my family.

NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?

Sheehan: Taking a month off, getting in the motor home, and driving around the West Coast up to Oregon, over to Washington, down to Montana, Utah, Arizona and back. That would be a perfect vacation.

NNBW: You’ve had a long career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working and living here?

Sheehan: Northern Nevada is an incredible place to live. The weather can’t be beat. Living here we are so fortunate to be in a place where there are so many sunny days each year. And the people here are very friendly and just want to have a good time. The recreation here and in the Sierra is phenomenal; there is so much to do. Very few places in the world can you go skiing and play golf in the same day.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment