Growing up skiing, backpacking and mountain biking on the San Francisco Peaks, Lisa Lamberson has always wanted to own a ski shop. Beginning March 1, her dream becomes a reality as she heads up Mountain Sports Flagstaff and carries on the family tradition of promoting active, outdoor lifestyles. Her father and company founder Mark Lamberson will remain involved as consultant and bookkeeper.
“I am thrilled to be able to continue our family’s dedication to outdoor pursuits and to the Flagstaff community,” said Lisa. “It gives me a great deal of pride to be involved in the activities that Mountain Sports Flagstaff represents and outfit the community with quality clothes and gear to enhance their outdoor experiences.”
At an early age, Lisa foretold her future in cursive for a Sechrist Elementary School classroom assignment. On lined school paper she wrote, “I would like to be a ski shop owner when I grow up. Because my dad is one and it looks like fun. I like skiing too, so that would be even more fun." Early on, Lisa helped out in the store, enjoying running the cash register. For the past 10 years, she has been working alongside Mark.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to buy the business,” she said. “I feel fortunate to work with my Dad and have access to his ideas and longtime experience in retail.”
Out of a love for adventure, Mark Lamberson started Mountain Sports with his brother, Bruce, in Casper, Wyoming. He expanded the company to Flagstaff in 1980 following a Northern Arizona University marketing study that identified a need for such a business.
“There was no such thing as outdoor sports stores then,” said Mark, who has been a lifelong skier and avid outdoor enthusiast, coaching skiers and serving in the Olympics as a race official and chief of course for snowboard and ski events. “It was amazing to be a participant in mountain biking and snowboarding as these sports were developing and to be out in front anticipating the needs of these fast-growing recreational activities.”
For more than 20 years, Mountain Sports was located on South Milton Road in the Greentree Village Shopping Center. Fourteen years ago, the Patagonia-focused shop opened in its current downtown location on the corner of San Francisco Street and Aspen Avenue.
“The Lamberson's have always embraced our brand and what we stand for, and they are a great example of how local business can continue to thrive,” said John Collins, Patagonia vice president of global sales. “They are invested in their customers, their community and in keeping their business looking forward. Most importantly they are just a great family and I know Lisa will do a fantastic job heading up the business.”
Enjoying nature was a family way of life as Mark and Rosemary Lamberson raised Lisa and her brother, Bret. They grew up enjoying outdoor adventures throughout the West. “After we finished high school I lived all over the country and was encouraged to explore whatever I chose,” said Lisa, whose background includes working as a river running cook, mountain bike guide, ski instructor, sternman for a lobster fishman and Montessori teacher. “There was never any pressure for either my brother or me to take over the family business.”
“This isn’t retirement for me; it’s a transition,” said Mark. “There are a lot more exciting ideas still coming in the Mountain Sports Flagstaff concept. After 40 years of running the business, things have changed dramatically. I like change, so it’s good to get a shot in the arm with another generation. Lisa can take these ideas and run farther than I have the energy to do. I’m proud the family legacy can be passed on.”
The Lambersons are proud participants in the 1% for the Planet program that gives 1% of all sales to local environmental and conservation organizations. Lisa says granting a portion of every sale allows them to give meaningful donations to passionate local organizations such as Friends of Camp Colton, Grand Canyon Youth and Flagstaff Biking Organization, to name a few. So far, Mountain Sports has been able to donate some $120,000 to the Flagstaff community.
Currently, Lisa serves on the board of directors for the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival and is a grant committee member for the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff. She is also a founding business member for Protect the Flows, a non-profit organization that seeks to maintain healthy recreational flows in the Colorado River system.