Colorado ski giant Vail Resorts is continuing its slalom into the Twin Cities ski market, with Hoigaard’s as its most recent acquisition.
The company announced Wednesday that it has purchased the 118-year-old St. Louis Park retailer for an undisclosed amount. Last year, Vail bought Afton Alps, along with the Mount Brighton ski area near Detroit, for $20 million.
Hoigaard’s will be part of Vail’s retail division, Specialty Sports Venture, which has more than 175 stores in Colorado, California, Nevada and Utah along with an online retail operation and O2GearShop in Appleton, Wis. The new store will be SSV’s first in Minnesota.
Hoigaard’s president Todd Brewer said the two companies have had a marketing relationship for several years, since the store started selling the Epic Ski Pass, which is good at ski resorts in Colorado and California and now Afton Alps, as well.
“We’ve been working with them and understanding their culture,” said Brewer, who is married to Jill Hoigaard-Brewer, a fourth-generation member of the Hoigaard family. “They’re the first company we thought of as a way to expand the brand.”
Specialty Sports Venture will retain the Hoigaard’s name and its 100 employees, said Kat Jobanputra, executive vice president and chief operating officer. “We’d like to expand the brand after we’ve had a chance to understand this marketplace,” he said.
In previous acquisitions, the company has not rebranded retail store names, SSV spokeswoman Joan Christensen said.“It’s about keeping the local identity,” she said.
Local retail experts saw the acquisition as a marketing complement to Afton Alps. Vail/Specialty Sports Venture can cross-market the Minnesota businesses as well as their resorts out West, said Dave Brennan, University of St. Thomas marketing professor.
Afton Alps is hoping to get more skiers to go across the river. “Most of our visitors are from the eastern side of the cities,” said Amy Reents, former Afton Alps owner and now marketing manager. “This is a chance to grow our visits from the western side of the Twin Cities.”
Hoigaard’s started in Minneapolis in 1895 as a tent and awning company, which still exists in Eden Prairie as Hoigaard’s Custom Canvas.
The main company started in the ski business in 1960 and had stores in St. Louis Park, Dinkytown, Arden Hills and Hyland Hills in Bloomington.
In 2006, the company sharpened its focus to skiing, camping, biking and other outdoor sports equipment and dropped the patio furniture business. It moved from alongside an iconic monogrammed brick smokestack to the Miracle Mile shopping center, also in St. Louis Park.
Hoigaard’s joins other SSV brands such as Colorado Ski & Golf, Bicycle Village, Mountain Sports Outlet, Any Mountain and Breeze Ski Rentals. Vail Resorts acquired full ownership of the company in 2010.