They say if you do something you love, it will never feel like a job.
For Jill and Jason Auld, they are among the lucky ones who managed to turn their passion into a successful business. As owners of Mountain Recreation in Grass Valley, the couple can indulge their lifelong passions for skiing, hiking, backpacking and the outdoors in general.
“We lived in Tahoe and Jill was a teacher and we decided to move back to Grass Valley,” Jason said. “I was working at a construction site and Jill got this hard-to-get teaching job in Grass Valley and it was totally random; it appeared in the newspaper: ‘Sporting goods store for sale’
“So we looked into it and never looked back. Next thing you know, we’re buying this store.
The Aulds admittedly had no retail experience when they opened, but over time the knowledge came.
“None of us had done retail, per se, or knew what we were getting into, to be honest,” Jill said. “But we grew up in this community, we love doing all the things that we promote and broadcast there.”
“I think the outdoor stuff we’re into, it was the eye candy or the corporate appeal,” Jason explained. “We came out of ski bums in Tahoe for five or seven years. I think that was the draw, these outdoor activities. It was totally head first diving.
Although store ownership takes up most of their time, the Aulds still strive to keep doing the things they love and that inspired them in the first place.
“We have three kids and we raised our kids letting them do all these things like hiking and skiing and stuff,” Jill said. “But we definitely have less time. When you own your own business, you are often here.
“We’re still in that environment where you’re still thinking about hiking or skiing, so we’ve always done that. In the beginning, we were so focused. We didn’t know what we were doing, just focusing on keeping the business going was eating us up.
NOT JUST THE EXTERIOR
Mountain Recreation has been in business for 22 years and offers a line of products for outdoor enthusiasts. However, they are quick to point out that their product line is not strictly for the outdoor type.
“I do all the textile products,” Jill said, “so clothing and accessories. I like this part; go to shows, bring lots of cool things to town and let people find them. This is, for me, my favorite part.
Women’s clothing features prominently in the store, with brands like Roxy and O’Neil, among others.
The couple are also proud of their rental services. They offer downhill skis, cross-country skis, snowboards and snowshoes. In summer, stand up paddles and kayaks. They maintain a kiosk during the summer at Scotts Flat Lake, where boards and kayaks can be tried out straight from the store’s fleet.
Jill said: “In the winter we offer a youth season ski rental package so they can come in and for $129 rent the gear for the whole season. And that’s for local families. They can come back and exchange it if something isn’t working or their feet have grown. It’s a great program for parents because it’s not a cheap sport, but it helps a lot.
They also offer a full service for tuning and repairing skis and snowboards.
“We’re often compared to REI, but we’re not trying to be an REI,” Jason said.
“We are unique in that the products we offer are quite unique to this region,” added Jill. “People find things here that they don’t find a lot of places in town.
“We feel pressure to make everyone happy. We are not an REI; we are smaller, but we do our best to bring what people need into the community. “
Mountain Recreation is at 491 E. Main St. in Grass Valley. For more information visit http://www.mtnrec.com or call 530-477-8006.
Jennifer Nobles is a staff writer for The Union. She can be contacted at [email protected]