South Lake Tahoe used ski shop a rarity in the region
December 31, 2017
South Lake Tahoe's Todd Wasserman greets a steady stream of customers Thursday afternoon as they walk through the door of his 350-square-foot store.
About six people at a time it seems is the most his one-of-a-kind business can handle before customers start invading each others' personal spaces.
There are three clothing racks stuffed full of jackets and snow pants. Adult skis fill one wall. Ski and snowboard boots, and more clothes, fill another wall. Dozens of snowboards take up one side, and bindings, helmets and youth skis fill up the rest.
But there also are hats, goggles, ski poles, ski bags and backpacks all on shelves within reach. If an item isn't in the store, the 54-year-old Wasserman has two more storage containers full of equipment off site.
And all of the items are used. Most were farmed from Tahoe Basin garage sales.
"I visit all of them," said Wasserman, about going to garage sales, adding that he sees other people doing the same thing. "But I probably got to 95 percent of them, maybe 98 percent."
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He remembers one sale he missed because his car broke down and still wonders what he may have missed out on. He scours the Tahoe Daily Tribune website (www.tahoedailytribune.com/marketplace/), Craigslist and Facebook looking for garage sales. He also makes sure while driving that his eyes are scanning for any signs that may lead him to a possible used ski equipment bonanza.
Wasserman collected such an inventory, enough to fill up three 350-square-foot stores he says, that he opened the Tahoe Used Ski & Snowboard Shop on Lake Tahoe Boulevard in the Tahoe Keys area. It's the only shop of its kind in the region, and maybe the state. When searching online for used ski and snowboard equipment, Wasserman's business appears at the top of the list.
"The number one way people find me is Google-ing me, or Yahoo-ing me," Wasserman said. "I am the only one in California, definitely the only one in the region. There are a lot of these shops in Colorado, but the idea didn't seem to make it out here."
The hours he does business, which he started about three years ago, revolve around his slope schedule. During the week when crowds are less at his favorite place, Heavenly Mountain Resort, customers can shop from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Since Heavenly closes at 4, he's forced to leave the slopes a little early. On the weekend, when the lift lines are overflowing, he's open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. He spent 51 of his 53 days on the mountain last year at Heavenly.
"I'm very spoiled. I don't like to go when it's crowded," Wasserman said. "I'm able to have a life during the week and get my own personal errands done. As I grow, I'll probably change the hours and maybe hire somebody."
Wasserman grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio and moved to Japan after college to teach English. He later moved to Colorado where he was a tax preparer from 10 years. He saved some money and went to Asia when he was burned out on taxes. He stayed there for about five years, mostly in Thailand, before going Down Under. He was planning to immigrate to Australia before getting "stuck" in Tahoe.
"I moved out here just for the winter and stayed through the summer," Wasserman said. "I fell in love with Tahoe and just stayed."
That was seven years ago.
Since he's been in South Lake, Wasserman runs a bike rental business in the summer and was a ski instructor at Heavenly for a few years. He's a skier first, but he's gotten addicted recently to snow blading, or skiboarding.
Wasserman buys merchandise or offers store credit and also trades. But he doesn't accept any cross country equipment, mainly because he knows nothing about it, and anything outdated. He thinks of his merchandise as lightly used.
And he sees no end in sight to his scavenger hunts.
"Knowing me, I'm just going to keep jamming things in here," Wasserman said.
His shop is located at 2301 Lake Tahoe Blvd. and he can be reached at 530-721-7095.
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