Stan & Dan Sports: Top Ski Shop in MWV (& in My Heart)

Stan & Dan'sOne thing I love about small town New England is the independent ski shops sprinkled near and around ski resorts. In my mind they all have a few things in common – the wood plank floors, salesfolk who share the passion for winter sports, walls of skis, and racks upon racks of beautiful new parkas and colorful ski socks. Stepping into Stan & Dan Sports in North Conway is more than just a quick stop to pick up supplies or equipment; it always takes me for a little trip down memory lane. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Mount Washington Valley, Stan & Dan’s is THE ski & sport shop in town… It’s like a ski gear institution that has been around since skiing was invented (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration).

I can remember my first trips to Stan & Dan’s when it was at its former location; a small brick building next to the Conway Scenic Railroad station in the village of North Conway. Trips to Stan & Dan’s were always exciting. The small shop seemed huge inside, like I could get lost in this building filled with shiny new ski gear. I remember staring at the wall of ski boots wishing that I owned one of each. You know women; we pick our shoes based on our mood… Why shouldn’t I be able to do the same with ski boots!?! It felt like we spent hours in the store when we really were probably only there for 15 minutes. It’s like time stands still when you’re shopping for ski gear or gabbing with other local ski folk… and you always bump into someone you know at Stan & Dan’s. Anyway, I remember that our purchases were not scanned by a barcode reader; they were written down on a nifty little carbon copy sales receipt on a silvery metal clipboard. Sometimes, things are best kept simple.

Today, even though it’s in a new location just north of North Conway village on Route 16, Stan & Dan’s still has knowledgeable, friendly staff that are on a first name basis with the customers, and it still smells the same! I don’t know what it is but when I enter the store it’s the same familiar aroma that brings back the memories of my childhood visits. Maybe it’s the ski wax, I’m not sure! I recently stopped by the shop to buy some supplies for tuning my skis at home. I noticed many pairs of skis at the sales counter, freshly tuned and ready for the owners to pick up. I looked at the wall of boots and skis and resisted the urge to torture myself by exploring the options. All around the store are pictures, many autographed, of local race teams, or valley racers that have found success and moved on to the US Ski Team, all thanking Stan & Dan for their support over the years. Yup, this is the store that I know and love, always involved in the local ski scene, helping the youths and hopefuls ski on the best gear, while also helping others afford great gear by running a consignment program for used equipment. It’s just an all-around feel-good store that celebrates the passion for skiing that thrives in Mount Washington Valley.

As I was paying, the salesperson pulled out the same silvery metal clipboard, wrote all of my purchases on the sales receipt, and handed me the yellow copy. Good ol’ Stan & Dan’s… Some things never change, and that is perfectly okay.

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