Vail couple enters Colorado Business Hall of Fame
VAIL, Colorado – After 50 years in business, Dave and Renie Gorsuch have earned a leisurely retirement. Instead, both still work just about every day.But Renie Gorsuch is taking a little time off from an international buying trip to return to Denver – for about 36 hours – to join her husband and numerous well-wishers and supporters at a ceremony tonight honoring the Gorsuches’ induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame. The next morning, Dave and Renie will jet off together to attend a giant ski industry trade show in Germany.All that travel sounds glamorous – and it is, Dave said. But it’s also a whole lot like work.”We’ll put in 10-hour days, seven days a week on those trips,” he said. Whether it’s buying trips or just being at the couple’s main store in Vail Village’s Clock Tower building, both Dave and Renie work – a lot.”It’s just a way of life Renie and I have always enjoyed,” Dave said.Dave – who was born at the old Climax mine atop Fremont pass – met Renie when they were 14, at a Junior Nationals ski racing event. The two were married in 1960. Two years later, the couple moved to Gunnison, where Renie landed a job as a school teacher while Dave continued his education. The couple had talked about starting a ski shop with gear and clothing, and when a couple of service bays opened up in a gas station in town, they got to work. They lived in the 400 square-foot apartment above the shop, and hung stuff on the wall on display boards built from barn wood and burlap.
In 1966, the Gorsuches were offered a chance to pick up the Sport House in Vail, in the then-new Clock Tower building. The store has been in the same spot in Vail Village ever since.Over the years, the Gorsuches raised a family, and have brought their sons into the business. They also have expanded the Gorsuch brand to nine stores in Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek and Aspen, with another location coming soon to Snowmass.But what has really made the business grow is the catalogs, both paper and on-line. Sears used to call its big Christmas catalog a “Wish Book.” That’s what the Gorsuch catalog is to people who love the mountains. There’s usually a combination of the functional and fashionable, the extravagant and the practical. That’s where the long days and weeks on the road pay off.George Gillett used to own Vail Associates and still lives in town. He’s known the Gorsuches for years, of course, and has always been amazed and impressed at what the store and catalog hold.Gillett talked with admiration about a new boot system that Dave and Renie discovered in Germany. The system combines electronic sensors and old-world craftsmanship to create what might be the ultimate ski boot.”They always seem to find new ideas like that,” Gillett said. “And they seem to be able to meld recreation with style.”Dave said he’s been amazed by the advances in gear and clothing over the years, from skis to boots to warm clothing that’s both lightweight and breathable.”It’s all much more user-friendly today,” he said.
While Dave and Renie are still hard at work, Dave was quick to credit the people he’s employed over the years. Many come to Vail the way young people always have, “for a season.”Years later, quite a few of those people still work at the store.And everyone there has to live up to high standards.”They’ve set exceptionally high standards,” Vail Mayor Andy Daly said. “They provide really top quality for guests.”Harry Frampton of East West Partners and Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate has known the Gorsuch family since about the time he hit the valley in 1980. Frampton said the Gorsuches are among the people who made the Vail Valley what it is today, but added that the Colorado Business Hall of Fame is a broader honor.”They’ve really brought a sense of style and sophistication to the ski industry,” Frampton said. “They’ve really extended the Vail lifestyle.”But the “Vail lifestyle” has always had a free-wheeling element, and that’s something the Gorsuches have first-hand experience, too.Dave recalled one alcohol-fueled night when he and some friends started running across the pool cover at the Lodge at Vail, trying to see what it would take to get the thing to collapse. Finally, someone leaped into the thing from the diving board, and the cover gave way.The commotion brought the town’s police chief, who eyed the group, then said simply, “Keep it down, OK?”There’s less of that behavior from Gorsuch and his peers these days, of course. But Dave and Renie still put in time on the mountain, and both still spend plenty of time in that store in the Clock Tower building.”I was over there not long ago,” Gillett said. “And Dave was in the store, talking to customers and just having a great time.”
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