By Caitlin Croft
As winter fast approaches, the air in Ellicottville is filled with excitement. Avid snow-sport enthusiasts line the streets of our small village searching for that perfect piece to add to their collection. As a kid growing up just north of Ellicottville, the fall trip was always the most intriguing— see what was new at each shop and you were filled with that sense of winter is coming, before that was some hashtag thing. One of the stops that was always my favorite was City Garage… I mean, it’s where I got my awesome pink moon boots that I will proudly admit are still in my closet.
As I approached their shop, my pace would always pick up and my sister and I would race to be the one to open that famous wrench handle. After living here full time for over five years ,that same excitement fills me even if I am just going over to say hi. Last week, I was fortunate to catch up with Sean Lowes, Patra Lowes and Trey Clauss.
As Patra and I snacked on leftover Halloween candy and Trey worked on price tags for their seriously sweet line of Swix Products, they filled me in on what has been going on at the City Garage.
“We are very excited about our new line of Alpine Touring Gear,” Trey tells me. “This is a boot and binding that allows for uphill travel on your skis.”
“And a mighty good workout,” Patra interjects.
The binding will unlock at the heel, not to be confused with a Tele Ski, and you lock it down to ski. “Early morning hike and turns — you cannot beat it,” Trey states. This is not a section of Alpine skiing that has quite caught on in our area, but the folks at City Garage think it is going to take off.
“You have to use common sense though when touring up and obey the rules of the runs,” Patra says. “Also, check with the resorts on what their policies are for Alpine Touring.” This concept is seriously cool, it brings the “earn your turns” to a whole new level.
The City Garage also carries many lines of products not available anywhere else in the village. I have a pair of gloves from them that I swear by. Coaching long hours out on the hill, my hands rarely get cold.
As I walked around the shop taking in all their new inventory, something popped out – “The SUVs for your feet.” Sean tells me that the Salomon Snow Clog has made their comeback! For anyone who doesn’t know what these are, they were a WILDLY popular shoe about 10 years ago. “Anyone over the age of 30 definitely has a pair of these kicking around.” My entire family: guilty as charged and my mother still wears hers!
Aside from their usual assortment of cross country skis and alpine skis, City Garage has expanded their Atlas snowshoe line. They will also be renting snowshoes, tele skis and cross-country skis this year. “The trails at Allegany State Park are a hidden gem,” says Patra. “Just call or go to their website for more information as it is a quick drive and a slice of winter paradise.”
And drum roll please…. Too Tall Tom, World Traveler and Hippie Extraordinaire, making tele skiing cool since the 80s, has made his triumphant return to employment at the City Garage. I was fortunate catch up with him a few days prior and talk about skiing concepts. His point of view was a refreshing take on skiing and I highly suggest you go pick his brain.
Sean also filled me in on the City Garage’s connection with realskiers.com as they are an authorized retailer and one of a handful on the East Coast. Realskiers.com gathers data from 25 test centers to help you find your perfect ski and then directs you to the “mom and pop shop” that carries it closet to you.
City Garage is a carrier of Yeti Products and their new Field Green Line of Hoppers is top notch a.k.a. a great present for the avid outdoorsman or woman in your life.
Whether you are looking for that perfect piece for après ski life or ready to get down and dirty this season, City Garage has it all. The City Garage can be found at 5 Monroe Street and is open Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday 9 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. They also have a great website at citygarageskishop.com or you can find them on Facebook and Instagram. So the next time you are in town stop by and say hi, or if you see their great staff out and about, remember they are beer drinkers too! Bring it on winter!