Eric Griffith, a technician at The Mountain Works, demonstrates the store’s ski and snowboard tuner. Mountain Works, a full-service bike shop in downtown La Grande, recently decided to offer ski and snowboard repair, and may add a winter sports retail section later. BILL RAUTENSTRAUCH / The Observer
La Grande’s only full-service bicycle shop is branching out into another area, adding ski and snowboard tuning and repair to its service line.
The Mountain Works at 1307 Adams Ave. recently purchased the tuner that had been in service at Blue Mountain Sports in the La Grande Town Center. Blue Mountain Sports went out of business last month when owners Greg and Deanna Hebard retired. For more than 30 years, the store catered to outdoor enthusiasts, including downhill and cross country skiers and snowboard enthusiasts.
Now Mountain Works is taking over service and repair.
“Blue Mountain covered that and did a great job, and we decided to buy the equipment so people would still have an option,” said Mountain Works employee Eric Griffith.
The Mountain Works has a long history in La Grande, having been founded by Pete and Eileen Palavos back in the 1970s. Initially it was located in La Grande’ east end, and for many years it was a full-service outdoor store. In 2006, Kim and Anita Metlen bought the business in partnership with their daughter, Mavis and son-in-law, Wit Hartz.
From then on, the store dealt mainly in bicycle sales and service. Hartz is a top-notch bike technician, but his knowledge of outdoor gear doesn’t end there. He’s an avid skier, and for a couple of seasons, he worked as the ski and snowboard repairman at Blue Mountain.
“The machine we bought is the same one I used while I was there, so there hasn’t been much of a learning curve,” he said.
Griffith also knows how to do the repairs.
“I have a little experience, and Wit is teaching me a lot,” he said.
Hartz said the tuner is designed to remove small defects from the base of a ski or a snowboard. He added that in addition to routine tuning, Mountain Works is equipped to do major repair on skis and snowboards.
Hartz said the chance to buy the tuner came along a little late in the current winter sports season, so he doesn’t expect the investment to start paying off till the next season.
In the meantime, he’s studying whether to branch out further, adding skis and snowboards and winter sports accessories to the product line.
He said it’s something he’d really like to.
“We aren’t prepared right now to do retail, but it’s something we’re thinking about. We really need a ski shop in this town,” he said.