2014 US Retailer of the Year


Ski Barn
Award Mid Atlantic

On a chilly day in December 1970, as the gray of winter was settling over New Jersey, Dick and Carol Fallon were out for a ride with their five children in the family’s wood-paneled Chrysler station wagon. The Fallon kids wanted skis for Christmas, but there was no one-stop ski shop where the family could fulfill their needs. Dick and Carol—who had never skied a day in their lives—decided the clan was going into the business. By the following November, they opened their first Ski Barn in Little Falls.

The family learned the business quickly, and nearly 45 years later, the vision continues, with the opening of a new 7,000-square-foot store in Shrewsbury this past September. The company, headquartered in Paramus, offers seasonal rentals and outfitting, with gear for all levels of downhillers and customized products for advanced athletes. Ski Barn, it is fair to say, has become a mecca for lovers of winter sports.

Though the original Little Falls location has closed, Ski Barn has stores in Paramus, Wayne, Lawrenceville and Shrewsbury. Seasonal rentals are still the heart of the business. Last year, 17,000 customers rented skis or snowboards from Ski Barn.

The key to Ski Barn service is training. All employees must test the products they sell, and all boot-fitters are sent to a four-day clinic where they learn the art of sizing boots. “If our employees are selling a particular product,” says Ray, “they’ve skied on it.”

The Fallons pride themselves on taking care of ski families while maintaining a personal touch, something that Dick and Carol envisioned so many years ago. They not only tout three generations of company ownership, but can cite many third-generation seasonal workers and customers. All five Fallon siblings have, at one time, been in the business.

These days, Dick and Carol’s granddaughter Jen Galinus is manager of the Wayne location. Grandson Nicholas is manager at the Paramus store. Daughter-in-law Pattie is head clothing buyer. Son-in-law Ted Galinus runs building maintenance. Rob Lane, general manager of the entire operation, although not a family member, has been with the company since 1974.

The Fallons have maintained their commitment to the community. The stores, which switch gears to outdoor furniture in the spring and summer months, raised $11,000 for Hurricane Sandy relief, with a portion of each sale donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Much has changed, too, including the ski fashions that fill the stores. Younger-generation employees handle the Ski Barn website and social media account. Computers have affected much of the business. “Before they put the computer in almost 20 years ago, all our inventory and receipts were done manually,” says Dick. The advent of computers, he adds, “changed everything.”

Dick and Carol, although retired for 10 to 12 years (the number has grown vague with the years), are still active in the operation of all the branches. “We couldn’t keep them out of the new store!” jokes Debbie.

“We offer really good rental equipment and pride ourselves on serving the customer well,” says Dick and Carol’s son, Ray Fallon, who runs operations with his sister Debbie.