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All a'board

Soldotna trio in their early twenties open snowboard, skateboard shop

Posted: Thursday, November 28, 2002

Three snowboarders decided to take a risky ride with plenty of obstacles -- that is they took the uncertain jump into entrepreneurship.

Soldotna natives Rusty Wilson, Rawley Atkinson, both 21 years old, and Tim Wallis, 23, are co-owners of Nine-O-Seven, a new snowboard and skate shop located at 35322 Kenai Spur Highway.

They plan to bring a whole new kind of store to the Kenai Peninsula.

The peninsula is behind in adopting snowboarding as a sport, the owners said.

Several other stores on the peninsula do offer a minimal selection of snowboard equipment, but this store has a tighter focus, Atkinson said.

"This place needs this," Wilson said. "It got to the point I couldn't think of anything else."

'All we knew about was skateboarding. We thought we could order a bunch of stuff -- sell it -- and make money.'

--Rusty Wilson, co-owner,

Nine-O-Seven

Wallis said he and his co-owners began "flirting with the idea" of opening the snowboard-skate shop toward the end of June.

Starting a business for the first time proved to be more difficult than the trio anticipated.

"I didn't have a clue," Wilson said.

They talked with Mark Gregory, business consultant at the Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center, to help point them in the right direction. They met once a week for one or two hours about five times, Wilson said.

He helped them form a business plan and went over the different aspects of what needed to be done, Wallis said.

"All we knew about was skateboarding and snowboarding," Wilson said. "We thought we could order a bunch of stuff -- sell it -- and make money."

They learned the details associated with starting a small business, such as, permit sales tax and obtaining a Federal Tax ID number.

"Taking the chance," Wallis said was the hardest part.

They knew what needed to be done, but making the transition to something tangible was difficult, Wilson said.

They might have let it slip away.

"But Tim saw someone looking at (the shop space)," Wilson said.

That is when snowboarders put the money down and became business owners.

They only achieved their goal with help. The owners of Nine-O-Seven said they owe what has been accomplished so far to their family and friends.

And together they owe just around $30,000 to their family members, who loaned them the startup funds.

It would have been better if the investment figure was at $20,000 a piece so they could have "backed up what is on the walls," Wilson said.

As it is they will have to order new shipments as the money flows in.

While these men do not look like the average business owners, dressed in skater clothing -- baggy pants, loose shirts and knit caps -- they are wearing the very garb they start selling this week.

It is geared toward snowboarders and skaters, with the clothing styles that accompany these sports.

The winter jackets, snowboard pants, sunglasses, goggles, shoes, wax, stickers, backpacks and clothing will come in different brands and styles that are not easily found this far south of Anchorage. However, the merchandise is not limited to only snowboard and skateboard use.

With the relaxed clothing comes a comfortable atmosphere.

This way customers might sit on the couch and watch boarding videos, while they wait for service and repairs to be done to their equipment.

With thirty years of snowboarding combined, the owners will offer advice and local knowledge on back country trails, Alyeska Ski Resort and what type and size of equipment works best for a particular person.

"We will even invite people to come along with us," Wilson said, "and get people to have fun."

They know what they wanted as customers and what young people are looking to purchase on the peninsula.

Even though many of their products are aimed toward a younger age group, they would like to see a broad customer base.

The business has hit some moguls along the way.

"We thought it would take a week to open -- months ago," Wilson said.

They had difficulty with some of the shipments arriving in time for opening, and are still missing orders because of mis-communication with some of the representatives of the different equipment companies.

At the same time they have had "outstanding" representatives from other companies who went out of their way to help them get started, they said.

Working late into the night, like boarding, can cause some unforeseen circumstances.

One night they had a gun held on them, they said.

Soldotna Police Officer Jessie Webster was passing the business when she noticed "suspicious circumstances," she said.

When she approached the store she saw one young man was carrying a carton.

"I told them to freeze," she said. "They said they owned the store."

After talking with them she realized these men, in fact, were not crooks, but were an asset to the community, she said.

"It's refreshing to see guys trying to do something to give back to the community," she said comparing them to other young people she has run into in her line of work.

The men said they love the community and want to help get young people started snowboarding and skating.

They are planning to hold snowboard and skateboard events and contests. The owners hope to find company sponsors for individuals with noticeable abilities. Some of these competitions will be held behind the building, where the new skate park and snowboard hill are located.

And this was "totally planned," Wallis said.

This way snowboarders and skaters are "close to home," and if a binding breaks or a bolt comes loose they can walk to the store, he said.

When Wilson was boarding in Tahoe, Calif., it was common for snowboarders to write their area code on their boards.

The name of the store represents Alaska, as 907 is the area code.

They hope like the Alaska area code, snowboarders on the peninsula will share a connection.

"It's been a dream," Wallis said.

And this snowboarder's dream came true.

Friends have watched the men succeed at what was once only an idea, and have started talking about opening their own businesses, Wilson said.

"People can do this," he said.

Three snowboarders decided to take a risky ride with plenty of obstacles -- that is they took the uncertain jump into entrepreneurship.

Soldotna natives Rusty Wilson, Rawley Atkinson, both 21 years old, and Tim Wallis, 23, are co-owners of Nine-O-Seven, a new snowboard and skate shop located at 35322 Kenai Spur Highway.

They plan to bring a whole new kind of store to the Kenai Peninsula.

The peninsula is behind in adopting snowboarding as a sport, the owners said.

Several other stores on the peninsula do offer a minimal selection of snowboard equipment, but this store has a tighter focus, Atkinson said.

"This place needs this," Wilson said. "It got to the point I couldn't think of anything else."

Wallis said he and his co-owners began "flirting with the idea" of opening the snowboard-skate shop toward the end of June.

Starting a business for the first time proved to be more difficult than the trio anticipated.

"I didn't have a clue," Wilson said.

They talked with Mark Gregory, business consultant at the Kenai Peninsula Small Business Development Center, to help point them in the right direction. They met once a week for one or two hours about five times, Wilson said.

He helped them form a business plan and went over the different aspects of what needed to be done, Wallis said.

"All we knew about was skateboarding and snowboarding," Wilson said. "We thought we could order a bunch of stuff -- sell it -- and make money."

They learned the details associated with starting a small business, such as, permit sales tax and obtaining a Federal Tax ID number.

"Taking the chance," Wallis said was the hardest part.

They knew what needed to be done, but making the transition to something tangible was difficult, Wilson said.

They might have let it slip away.

"But Tim saw someone looking at (the shop space)," Wilson said.

That is when snowboarders put the money down and became business owners.

They only achieved their goal with help. The owners of Nine-O-Seven said they owe what has been accomplished so far to their family and friends.

And together they owe just around $30,000 to their family members, who loaned them the startup funds.

It would have been better if the investment figure was at $20,000 a piece so they could have "backed up what is on the walls," Wilson said.

As it is they will have to order new shipments as the money flows in.

While these men do not look like the average business owners, dressed in skater clothing -- baggy pants, loose shirts and knit caps -- they are wearing the very garb they start selling this week.

It is geared toward snowboarders and skaters, with the clothing styles that accompany these sports.

The winter jackets, snowboard pants, sunglasses, goggles, shoes, wax, stickers, backpacks and clothing will come in different brands and styles that are not easily found this far south of Anchorage. However, the merchandise is not limited to only snowboard and skateboard use.

With the relaxed clothing comes a comfortable atmosphere.

This way customers might sit on the couch and watch boarding videos, while they wait for service and repairs to be done to their equipment.

With thirty years of snowboarding combined, the owners will offer advice and local knowledge on back country trails, Alyeska Ski Resort and what type and size of equipment works best for a particular person.

"We will even invite people to come along with us," Wilson said, "and get people to have fun."

They know what they wanted as customers and what young people are looking to purchase on the peninsula.

Even though many of their products are aimed toward a younger age group, they would like to see a broad customer base.

The business has hit some moguls along the way.

"We thought it would take a week to open -- months ago," Wilson said.

They had difficulty with some of the shipments arriving in time for opening, and are still missing orders because of mis-communication with some of the representatives of the different equipment companies.

At the same time they have had "outstanding" representatives from other companies who went out of their way to help them get started, they said.

Working late into the night, like boarding, can cause some unforeseen circumstances.

One night they had a gun held on them, they said.

Soldotna Police Officer Jessie Webster was passing the business when she noticed "suspicious circumstances," she said.

When she approached the store she saw one young man was carrying a carton.

"I told them to freeze," she said. "They said they owned the store."

After talking with them she realized these men, in fact, were not crooks, but were an asset to the community, she said.

"It's refreshing to see guys trying to do something to give back to the community," she said comparing them to other young people she has run into in her line of work.

The men said they love the community and want to help get young people started snowboarding and skating.

They are planning to hold snowboard and skateboard events and contests. The owners hope to find company sponsors for individuals with noticeable abilities. Some of these competitions will be held behind the building, where the new skate park and snowboard hill are located.

And this was "totally planned," Wallis said.

This way snowboarders and skaters are "close to home," and if a binding breaks or a bolt comes loose they can walk to the store, he said.

When Wilson was boarding in Tahoe, Calif., it was common for snowboarders to write their area code on their boards.

The name of the store represents Alaska, as 907 is the area code.

They hope like the Alaska area code, snowboarders on the peninsula will share a connection.

"It's been a dream," Wallis said.

And this snowboarder's dream came true.

Friends have watched the men succeed at what was once only an idea, and have started talking about opening their own businesses, Wilson said.

"People can do this," he said.



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