UNLTD: CELEBRATING A QUARTER CENTURY OF SHRED AND SKATE
Words by Corrie DiManno
Photos by Tyler Parker Photography
In an industry that can sometimes have a reputation for serving sass and crass, UNLTD is dedicated to sprinkling positivity everywhere, from the ski hills to the skateboard parks. It’s this different attitude that has helped to outfit skateboarders and snowboarders in carefully-selected, top brands for the past 25 years.
Photo by Tyler Parker.
Twenty-five and feelin’ fine. In 2020, Unlimited Skate + Snow (UNLTD) will celebrate its silver jubilee as a snowboard, skate, and lifestyle shop in the Bow Valley. To kick off the big anniversary, they are rolling into the new decade with a recent renovation on their Banff Avenue store.
Of course, this modernization is a crowning achievement in UNLTD’s history, but the team says their biggest success is the culture of kindness and inclusion cultivated at their shops. In an industry that can sometimes have a reputation for serving sass and crass, UNLTD is dedicated to sprinkling positivity everywhere, from the ski hills to the skateboard parks. Basically, the UNLTD team prides itself on its unofficial, universal slogan: “Don’t be an a**hole to anybody.” It’s this different attitude that has helped to outfit skateboarders and snowboarders in carefully-selected, top brands for the past 25 years.
Started in Harmony Lane, Now We’re Here
A ’90s baby, UNLTD was opened by Monod Sports Ltd. in the downtown Banff landmark Harmony Lane in 1995. Five years later, Dave Carlson became the general manager of the snowboard shop, while going to school to become an accountant. In 2001, he transitioned the shop to its current location at 319 Banff Avenue. A year later, Dave and his wife Jennifer became the owners and, shortly after, they had their first son. During that time of next-level multi-tasking, Dave recounts how he was doing the advertising, accounting, buying, as well as cleaning washrooms. The ABCs, if you will. However, Dave began to let the day-to-day operation reins go when he hired senior-level staff more than a decade ago. Back then, the Banff shop had five staff. Today, there are 23 in total between the Banff and Canmore shops.
“We have a strong team, it’s incredible. My role now is to be a cheerleader and to help everybody enjoy their jobs,” says Dave. “I want work to be fun.”
Dave also quips that accounting is currently all he does after once believing he’d given it up to pursue a career in retail management.
The lot at 319 Banff Avenue has been home to a
number of well-loved businesses over the years.
New Shop on the Block
After two months of construction, UNLTD is reopening its doors to an easier, more comfortable shopping experience. They are proud that 90 per cent of the materials used to modernize the shop were recycled locally, including items like fixtures and slat-wall panels. With the scent of cedar in the air, customers can expect an upgraded look and feel to the shop.
“It’ll be the most Zen snowboard shop in Canada,” says Tyler Parker, who’s in charge of marketing and advertising for UNLTD. “We’re excited to welcome people into our new home.”
Photos by Tyler Parker.
Brotherhood of Board, Sisterhood of Shred
Walk into UNLTD and amongst the boards, boots, and bindings you’ll find a bunch of best friends. It’s almost as if the secret to making it to 25 years is in the sauce. According to the team at UNLTD, the family that plays together stays together. Family operated and owned, the love extends to include the staff as well. From after-hours hangouts to the Shop Ride Days during big snowfalls, UNTLD is a tight-knit unit.
“We’re empowered and motivated, we love snowboarding and we’re lucky to have the opportunity to work in the industry and help the industry move forward by doing what we do,” says Tyler. “We’re all on the same team. We’re focused and having fun.”
Ride Days with the Unlimited Team. Photo courtesy Unlimited.
Dave the Dad
Dave is unequivocally at the centre of this focused and fun boarding bunch. Over the past 13 years, he’s coached manager Ryan Belder with everything from problem-solving at work to supporting him in achieving his personal goals.
“Dave’s the biggest mentor I’ve ever had in my life. Whether it’s his core values, like prioritizing family or just treating people well, he’s a very good example for all of us. He treats his family and staff like gold,” says Ryan. “He has every reason to be stressed running a small business, but he never brings that into daily life at the shop.”
Carlson at work in the old Unlimited shop. Photo by Tyler Parker.
Ryan says Dave makes sure the team is fuelled up and happy. For example, Dave brings pizza on inventory nights and always pops into the shop to see if anyone needs a coffee or juice. Aside from keeping everyone caffeinated, Dave also has an open-door policy; whether it’s shoptalk or something personal, he will talk it through with his fellow teammates.
And Dave isn’t the only Carlson who nurtures the team. Along with Jennifer and their two teenage sons, Tait (17) and Kieran (15), Dave’s parents, Karen and Gerry, also pitch in with running the business, making it a three-generation operation. Tyler lovingly refers to Karen as “a grandma to all of us.”
Spread the Love
UNLTD has a strong mandate of giving back and paying it forward in the community. Longstanding donations include the local high schools, day care, hospital, and various sports organizations. They also have a Team Riders program, which supports local skateboarders and snowboarders with products and bursaries.
This, coupled with what UNTLD does for their staff and customers, solidifies the different attitude they bring to the industry, says Jenn Scheirer, general floor manager.
“We just love everybody and we want to develop the community. The more friends, the better. It’s not as much fun snowboarding by yourself.”
Photo by Tyler Parker.
Keep Reading → UNLTD: 5 Life Lessons from a Small Town Shop
Unlimited Skate + Snow is an independently owned, local skate, snow and lifestyle boutique, with stores located in Banff and Canmore. Unlimited curates the best goods for skateboarders and snowboarders from all over the world, and proudly supports the outdoors-loving mountain culture of the Canadian Rockies.
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