Mike Brown: Salty Peaks

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"One Day Timmy got mad at a snowboard box and set it on fire with a blowtorch in the basement. Starting fires inside the shop is not good for retail sales." Illustration: Phil Cannon

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, I worked in a snowboard shop. Sometimes I didn’t work very hard, but most of the time I worked harder than a donkey in a coal mine. That could be a really bad analogy, since I don’t know if donkeys were allowed in coal mines, but I like the idea of donkeys wielding pickaxes. This snowboard shop was Salty Peaks.

I called Dennis Nazari, current owner and my former boss, to reminisce about the good old days. Dennis is notoriously hard to get ahold of, so I had to pretend to be interested in purchasing a vintage Burton Woody from his world famous Snowboard Museum. Once he figured out it was me, we started the interview.

When I first started in the wonderful world of retail, I worked at Salty Peaks with my good buddies Greg Wrotniak and bestie, Timmy Ekeren—both notorious Salt Lake rippers and troublemakers. Timmy had an exceptional knack for causing trouble, and soon got fired for almost burning down the store.

One day, Timmy got mad at a snowboard box and set it on fire with a blow torch in the basement. Starting fires inside the shop is not good for retail sales, but it’s still pretty fun, and Timmy was only 17, so give the kid a break.

Greg taught me how to milk the time clock in numerous ways. We managed to turn our slacking off into games––like the roundabout game. That’s where one of us would grab a snowboard and do a full lap through the store and see how many laps we could make until a manager would ask us what the fuck we were doing. Greg still holds the record at 10.

Or there was the shoe wall game, where we would throw stuff at the shoe wall and see how many shoes we could knock off with one throw. This game was super fun, but made it way more obvious to upper management that we were just fucking around.

I asked Dennis in my interview how many times I almost got fired. According to him, the answer is three, but if I had posed the question differently, like how many times I should have gotten fired, it would be much higher. That shop is just too close to the liquor store to not have some mayhem happen from time to time. Trying to sell a snowboard when you are a pint deep in Sunnybrook is quite the challenge, but has groomed me into the tremendous salesman that I am today.

For some fucked up reason, Dennis decided to make me and Danny Woodhead managers at the store. I quickly learned that management consists of doing less work if you do it right. I was really good at Jedi mind-fucking the young snowtards into doing my bidding. The secret was to just make them think I was busy. I had a whole slew of tricks to do this.

My favorite was the clipboard trick. If you manage any kind of store, always have a clipboard with you. That way, if one of your employees tries to ask you for a lunch break or some other stupid shit, you can look down at your clipboard and go, “Oh shit!  I almost forgot something!”  It’s also a great way to ignore customers. They would think I was in the middle of a big order or something, but I was really just drawing penises.

I confessed to Dennis where me and Danny used to take naps during our shifts. There was a massive pile of snowboard boxes under the stairs and it was one of the only places in the shop that didn’t have a security camera on it. I built a wicked fort and you could use packing peanuts for a pillow. It was remarkably soothing. This was a manager’s only perk, for sure.

The whole time I worked at Salty Peaks, we only had one break-in. Dennis made it to the store in his 4Runner before the cops did, and almost ran over the burglar. He made a split second decision not to pancake the crook with his car, and then asked the cops what would have happened if he had squashed the guy, to which the cops replied, “accidents happen.”

That being said, Dennis would like that burglar to know that if you are reading this, you are welcome for not being dead or in a wheelchair, courtesy of Dennis Nazari.

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