Outside Business Journal

Alpenglow Sports Sells $75K in Gift Cards in Just Four Days

Owner Brendan Madigan asked his community to #SaveYourLocalGearShop. And they did

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Sometimes people will blow you away with kindness…if you just let them.

The coronavirus crisis has had a crippling effect on so many retailers and small business owners and made them realize how vulnerable their businesses are unthinkably unexpected forces. Brendan Madigan, owner of Alpenglow Sports in Lake Tahoe, California, is just one of thousands of outdoor business owners who are wondering whether they’ll make it through.

“This crisis has really forced me to soul search on what my business is really, truly about,” said Madigan. The answer is simple: my community.”

Alpenglow has had two owners since its birth in 1979: Don Fyfe and Madigan, who says feels a tremendous, sometimes smothering, responsibility to continue its legacy for generations to come.

On Thursday of last week, Madigan set his ego aside and wrote to his community from the heart (see the full Facebook post below). “I swallowed my pride and asked our amazing customers to take care of us in this great time of need,” he said. “I never could have imagined the immense outpouring of love and support. It was absolutely overwhelming.”

In just four days, the Alpenglow community has purchased — get this — more than $75,000 worth of gift cards. He says the emails are coming in so fast—customers asking for a new touring setup or pair of skate skis—he can barely keep up. One customer even offered to buy Alpenglow futures. “You do so much for the Tahoe community. You MUST survive. Your store MUST survive,” she wrote on Facebook.

Madigan will use these funds to keep Alpenglow alive. “While the landscape is still blurry, the reality is that we only have so much capital to protect us during such an unprecedented time,” said Madigan. “I’ll use these much needed funds to support my staff, who are like family to me. I am on a life missions to make sure the Alpenglow legacy continues.”

Professional athletes like Michelle Parker, Adrian Ballinger, and Bryce Bennett shared Alpenglow’s plight on Instagram. “People I’ve never met turned out in droves to support us because they love what we do or have enjoyed some of our free events,” said Madigan, his voice cracking with emotion.

In some ways, this outpouring of love shouldn’t surprise Madigan. After all, he’s just reaping what he has sewed in his community. For the last 13 years, Madigan has hosted huge community events, Mountain Festival and Winter Speaker Series, and raised more than $500,000 for local charities.

Ask your customers to pre-pay for the gear they’ll need down the road. You might be surprised at their willingness to support you. (Photo: Courtesy)

Madigan wants his fellow retailers to follow suit: “OBJ launched the #SaveYourLocalGearShop campaign last week. Join it. Don’t wait,” he said. “I’m convinced that if you’re willing to be vulnerable, your community will show you a level of support that you might not have ever thought possible. Humanity is never better than in times of adversity. I challenge you to see just how much love is out there for you and your shop or business. I think you’ll be floored when you see the outpouring of support and love.”