Life as a Local: Bikes and business

Schmid in McSporties at Sun Peaks. Photo Supplied

Matthias Schmid was 11 years old and lived in Heffley Creek. He could often be found at the landfill just up the road looking through scrap metal to find abandoned bikes.

He’d repair them and take them to Ian McLaren’s McSporties store in Kamloops (then called Consignor Sports). McLaren would sell the bikes on consignment and Schmid would get cash. It was the beginning of a lifelong relationship.
Working with McLaren, or Maccy as Schmid affectionately calls him, became his first job.As a young ski racer he spent weekends training and competing before heading to McSporties (then at Sun Peaks) at night to work. While he attended trade school in the Lower Mainland and then worked in Kamloops he kept in touch, continuing to race, coach and spend time at Sun Peaks when he could.

In 2016 an opportunity came which would alter the course of his life. McSporties was for sale and Schmid could purchase and run it himself.

“It was not in the master plan,” he said, laughing. “When you’re an employee working for someone else you show up from eight to four and go home after. When you own a small business the phone’s always ringing, the emails and texts keep coming in.

“Being a small business owner isn’t a job, it’s an identity…you have to embrace that. You can’t have that sense of separation. You have to live it, you’ve got to really like it.”

The takeover came with a steep learning curve, from finances to learning the seasonality of the business. This winter will be his fourth owning the shop and his feet are more solidly under him.

“The last three winters for the whole resort have been the busiest it’s ever been. Hand in hand with that, McSporties is the busiest it’s ever been.”

Schmid (centre) after winning a race at Tod Mountain. Photo supplied

Since taking over, Schmid has grown into space next door to improve retail space. This summer, for the first time, McSporties offers rentals of downhill and e-bikes.

For him it’s about bettering the store and the community as a whole.

“The community needs to evolve, it has to grow, otherwise it becomes stale and goes away. We need to give people a reason to visit.”

As he’s grown into his identity as owner, Schmid said, he’s been lucky to be surrounded by a vibrant business community.

“What great entrepreneurial people (at Sun Peaks) to connect with and learn from,” he said. “And the staff that work with me, I can’t give them enough props and shout outs. They’re all mountain people and we’re all learning together.

“The direction I keep us pointed is positive and inclusive…this store and the things we’re doing are a direct reflection of my outlook and how I like to live my life. I’m always in pursuit of a good time and I think people are drawn to that.”

Outside of work Schmid is still passionate about skiing.

Schmid enjoying a powder line. Photo Supplied

“I really enjoy the lifestyle of being on the mountain. It’s so busy but if you have half an hour you can throw your gear on and go for a lap or two.”

His competitive streak from racing is still going strong. He takes part in the local Friday Race Series and the Saudan Couloir Race Extreme in Whistler (last year he took home a silver medal). He’s also a long standing champion of the legendary Top to Bottoms end of season race.

Matthias Schmid (Left), with Ian McLaren, previous owner of McSporties. At the season ending Top to Bottoms race. Photo SPIN

“I’m always game for a real challenge,” he said. “I’m all about the new challenges, if you don’t evolve and learn you’ll get bored.”

He’s also passionate about supporting the Sun Peaks Skate Park Foundation.

“As a resort and as a community how are we going to define ourselves? Having lived in Whistler and seeing what a skate park will do for the community I’m a firm believer. It’s accessible, it creates a sense of community.”

Looking to the future of the shop Schmid said he has big plans including adapting to shifts in the industry, revamping the service department, improving their online presence and eventually considering adding another location.

In the meantime he’s enjoying the shift from Kamloops living to mountain life.

“To be able to be a part of the fabric up here, I feel inclined to give back to the community…When you don’t live here full time you’re a part of the community but you’re kind of orbiting it, not fully immersed. When you’re immersed it grants you the opportunity to connect with and learn from a lot of like minded people.

“To me it’s that you only have so much time on this earth so you need to choose how to spend it…to be a local here I have the opportunity to bike or ski or be outdoors and that’s everything.”

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