Valley locals make their mark
(page 4 of 7)
Bringing the Boarding Revolution to the Valley
After spending two weeks driving cross-country with their German shepherd, Sasha, and sleeping in the car at night, Jim Slanetz and Karin Reichow finally trundled into Hailey in a Mercedes Benz on its last legs.
“Whoever had to sleep in the back seat had to sleep with the dog. Whoever had to sleep in the front seat had to deal with the stick shift,” said Slanetz, reliving that late-’80s ordeal.
By the time they got to town, the car was kaput. It was time to get jobs and find a place to live. Luckily, those responsibilities came together in a fortuitous fashion. They found a garage in Ketchum for rent. It had heat, electricity, a carpet, no running water and was long enough to fit two cars parked end-to-end.
“So Jim was like, ‘Why don’t we open a snowboard shop in the front?’” Reichow recalls.
The rest, as they say, is history. They hung their hats in the back and opened the original incarnation of the Board Bin—the (unofficial) first snowboard shop in the Northwest—in the front.
“We were a tiny shop run by two people and a dog,” Reichow explained.
Since then, the store has become a Ketchum mainstay and the couple has had a hand in shaping the evolution of snowboarding and skateboarding in the Wood River Valley.
But long before that, their stories began on different continents. Slanetz, 46, grew up in New Hampshire and went to college in Boulder, Colorado, where he first stepped onto a snowboard.
“Someone in my dorm had a snowboard and we would hike up this hill by the planetarium,” Slanetz recalled. “It was more like sledding.”
Reichow, 49, was born in a flat part of Germany, where winter sports were restricted to sledding. She was 12 when she first went skiing in Austria, and spent four weeks in a hospital one winter with a broken back from a bad tumble on the slopes.
In ’88, the pair met in Boston, where Reichow was working with a non-profit group and Slanetz was taking vanloads of tourists on trips around New England. She liked his dog, helped him find some clients, and he invited her to join him on one of his adventures.
Soon thereafter, they were in the jalopy heading west. The next January they got married at the Hailey airport.
Over the years, the Board Bin grew through hard work and dedication. For a while, Slanetz and Reichow each kept side jobs to pay the bills. They innovated early, fashioning snowboard boots from old ski boot liners stuffed into used snow boots. Reichow learned to snowboard and the shop soon became a hub for the knuckle-dragging community.
The fall after they opened the store, Slanetz and Reichow moved it (and their living quarters) to a building on 4th Street, currently home to Java’s ice cream store. In the small alley next door, they opened Ketchum’s first skate park. The neighbors were not thrilled, but the park gave local kids a place to skateboard under the watchful eyes of the shop owners. Eventually, they helped organize the first legitimate skate park in Ketchum, garnering support around town and raising money by throwing street parties.
Since the couple first moved to town, snowboarding has gone mainstream, they’ve had two sons, Ziggy and Shea, and . . . the Board Bin has become a true icon.
“We didn’t know that we’d still be doing it 20 years later,” Reichow said with a laugh.