Interview with Ally Kerr from Gnomes Alpine Sports
Gnomes Alpine Sports is a central hub for Canterbury skiers located in Darfield. It is the biggest ski specific and rental store in the region and is renowned for great service. You can really tell when you visit that the Gnomes team are super passionate about skiing. We caught up with director Ally Kerr about the journey to grow Gnomes to where it is today and what's next.
It feels like only yesterday the brand-new store opened but it was all the way back in 2016! Can you tell us a bit about the shop?
The new store was a big milestone for Gnomes, once we moved into a much larger, modern store that was well merchandised with high-end gear, the skiers took us more seriously and sales accelerated. We always had a solid technical knowledge, but the new store was the icing on the cake. We have occupied the store for four season’s and have completely run out of space, there is talk of the next step and expansion in the future.
Gnomes opened in 1983, what's changed from your point of view in the Selwyn Ski Scene over the years?
The obviously change from a ski retailers’ position would be that the equipment is making skiing easier than it ever has been. Shape, camber profiles, lighter weight materials, cutting edge constructions and most importantly snug but comfortable boots all make for a better time on the snow. It’s easier to control and the on-snow sensation has a better feel than it did back in the 80’s.
Do you think more people are getting in to skiing? What do you think draws them to Selwyn?
Yes, a lot of new gear is heading out the doors to new skiers. Selwyn offers a mainly crowd free relaxed vibe with a good selection of ski areas. We see many overseas visitors coming through the shop on their way for a ski week up at the clubbies.
What kind of questions do you ask when a person says they are looking for a new pair of skis?
I think the list of questions is getting longer to narrow down someone’s search for skis as there is so many different types, shapes, camber profiles and flexes. We want to know a skier is going to enjoy their new planks, and to get a result it can take many questions. There could be as many as 20 questions, sometimes it seems like borderline harassment!
How many pairs of skis do you think a person should own?
I love this question! It’s possible to do it in just one pair if you are a person that’s happy with compromises. But four or five pairs is probably the better solution for top performance on all snow types, especially if skiing from groomers to backcountry touring.
We would put money on Gnomes being the #1 recommended store for boot fitting in the South Island at least. Are you willing to share some secrets to a great boot fit?
This is an area we put the most amount of our energy, we spend a lot of time learning and now the sheer volume of boots we are selling or working on is only adding to our experience and knowledge. We have the added bonus of being on route to all Canterbury ski areas (and on the way home) so we get pretty instant feedback on results or tweaks made to boots.
There are some basic rules of boot fitting, but the biggest rule is there is no black and white, each custom boot fit is case by case, it’s all grey. What works for one person may not work for another. We back all our ski boot fits with a 100% comfort fit guarantee.
How do you find the skiing in Selwyn? Any favourite spots you're willing to share?
Skiing in Selwyn is something special, I’m yet to find that club field atmosphere we have here anywhere else in the world. The terrain is excellent and the crowds for the best part are non-existent, what more can I say. I like to hang out equally between the Selwyn Six fields, they all have their pros. Some mornings a decision of “what ski area?” is the hardest part of the day.
Gnomes Alpine Sports
26 South Terrace, Darfield