Dallas Goldsmith is a Big Bear guy down to his toes. He grew up here, and then moved away and to be a golf pro at the Presidio, in San Francisco. But the pull of the family business and the perks of being stockholders at the local ski areas, Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit brought him back to this small lakeside town, and today he keeps very busy with one of the leading ski and snowboard shops on Big Bear Boulevard, and as a golf pro at the town’s only course. He’s got a slim athletic build, and is nearly always thinking of new ways to improve his family business.
Dallas joined us today on the slopes of Snow Summit for some morning skiing. In the lodge, where photos show his father showing off on his old 60s vintage Head skis, he explained his rigorous training in ski boot fitting. Because the fit of a boot is so crucial for people to enjoy their skiing experience, special fitting and measuring is required. He’s been designated as a boot tester for Ski magazine, which gives him a lot of credibility when people come in for equipment.
Everyone in Big Bear, as well as Mammouth Mountain to the north and all of the other Southern California ski areas, are praying for more snow, and it’s affecting just about everything. A good sized snowfall last week gave a little coverage, but there were still several lifts and many trails unable to open due to lack of cover.
The day was magnificent, about 60 degrees, with plenty of Big Bear’s famous sun, and as a result the machine made snow on the slopes would begin disintegrating as the sun warmed it up throughout the morning. Dallas advised us to stay to the sides as much as possible, and after lunch, to not try to get too many runs in since the ‘mashed potatoes’ consistency of the snow began slowing us way down on our runs down the mountain.
But Dallas sees the bright side, and he soldiers on as any one in such a cyclical business must do. He told us about some of the innovations that have made Goldsmith’s Boardroom one of the busiest rental shops in town. He started experimenting with a drive-through rental equipment return, since the bottleneck comes between 4 and 6 pm when up to 600 customers can converge on the shop trying to return skis. He’s experimented with returning the skis right at the mountain, and using special carts to carry equipment for large parties to and from vehicles.
He passed along a great tip for anyone who wants to bring their skis on their next flying ski vacation–ship them ahead by UPS. The cost will be less than half of the oversize luggage fees for there and back, and you won’t have to schlepp the skis down the concourse and try fitting them into a taxi–the skis will be waiting for you at the resort.
We asked him about the impact of four years of very low snowfall as had on Big Bear Lake. “It’s been terrible for everyone,” he said. With only half the number of lift attendants, kitchen crews and other employees at the two mountains, there is ripple effect. From Jayme at the Grizzly Bear Cafe who said there used to be cars lined up down Big Bear Boulevard, to the other shops and restaurants who at one time made as much in the winter as the summer, it’s been tough. But no one in Big Bear has thrown in the towel, since the summer that will come sooner than the winter will end will bring thousands more tourists up from LA and San Diego, no matter how much snow falls this season.