Alliance: How many Starbucks are there within a two-mile radius of your shop?
Seattle Watersports: There are so many Starbucks in the area it’s crazy. We have actually been negotiating with Starbucks to have one opened here in our shop.
A: Your store hasn’t always been named Seattle Watersports. What was the shop name in the past and why the name change?
SW: We used to be named Ski-Masters Watersports but Mark, the owner, thought as long as he was changing his marital status it made sense to change the business name too (laughs). Actually with the industry changing more to boardsports and after picking up Chaparral we wanted the name to reflect watersports as a whole, not just skiing.
A: When did Seattle Watersports (Ski Masters) open the doors to the watersport junkies of Seattle?
SW: Ski Masters was founded in 1987 and the Seattle Water Sports name was introduced in 2005.
A: Seattle is probably better known for its coffee and grunge music, but people might not know that the majority of the wake industry’s biggest brands are in the Seattle area. What’s the benefit of being so close to all of the factories?
SW: It’s great to have them all in our backyard, we are able to see the ideas on the drawing board before they make the cut. Sometimes we get to try out new products and prototypes!
A: You have been hosting an event called “Evening of the Stars.” Tell us a little about that event and which athletes have showed up to party over the years.
SW: Evening of the Stars has been an annual tradition of ours for maybe 16 years. The first few years were kind of a blur. We provided the liquor and kegs and things got pretty wild. The event is really a customer appreciation party so we can say thanks to all of our customers by inviting them to the shop for free food and drinks. The party is always the third week of November so we bring in all of the new product for next season for everyone to get a peek at. There have been many athletes here over the years, not all but most have experienced our hospitality.
A: Boats and service are a large part of your business. Which boat brands do you carry and why?
SW: We carry MB Sports and Chaparral. We have been an MB Sports dealer ever since they first started making boats back in 1995. MB’s are one of the best tow boats made. They are fully custom and made to order; one of the last truly hand built boats. Chaparral boats offers boats from 18 to 42 feet, which fits a wide range of buyers.
A: We see you have an online store as well. What brands can people expect to see in your pro shop and online store?
SW: We carry all the top brands of wakeboards, wakesurfers and gear as well as clothing, wetsuits and footwear from Reef, Billabong, O’Neill and Northwest Riders. If someone ever does want something I don’t have I will do my best to bring it in.
A: Seattle can get pretty cold. What do you guys do to keep wakeboarders on the water longer and starting their season earlier?
SW: We carry a complete line of O’Neill wetsuits and drysuits and we also carry a less expensive Seattle Waters Sports branded drysuit to help keep people warm on the cold days. We also install heaters and heated seats in boats and we sell great waterproof fleece blankets that hook up to a boat’s heater hose to keep you warm. Seattleites get on the water in early spring to start practicing for the INT League. Mark gets out on the lake for lessons long before the first event in June.
A: Your store sits about 200 yards from Lake Washington and you’re relatively close to a number of other lakes. Which lake in the Seattle area do you think is the best?
SW: Well, we’re a little spoiled; we spend a lot of time up at Radar Lake, which has got to be one of the best. But Lake Sammamish and Lake Washington are both great lakes and because they are so big you can usually find some smooth water somewhere.
A: Do kids ever put on some gloves and bonk buoys a-la Northwest native/wake pioneer Bill McCaffray?
SW: Yea, that’s funny. The INT actually put on a wakeboard slalom event, for fun, to see if anyone could break the world wakeboard slalom record set by Ken “Shred” Bernard back in the early days.
A: Pick one: Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden or Alice in Chains.
6820 NE 175th St
Kenmore, WA 98028