Since its founding in 1980, Sun & Ski Sports has remained true to its philosophy: “do a few things, but do them better than anybody else.” The shop stocks equipment in five categories of extreme and outdoor activities, including camping, skating, running, bicycling, and water and snow sports. It specializes in these to ensure its merchandise maintains a high standard of quality, and its employees are knowledgeable participants in the sports their department represents.
Bikers can drop off their steeds for tune-ups from certified mechanics who put all brands through the rigors of a 12-point inspection, checking chains and adjusting wobbly pedals and malfunctioning spoke-card motors. While waiting, curious eyes might linger on a North Face two-person tent, a Blackburn Airtower bicycle pump, or a vast selection of shoes from brands such as New Balance and Asics. Men and women can traipse nearly barefoot in the park with Vibram FiveFingers, which offer minimal structural encumbrances for a more natural stride, or cast their feet aside for the new-wheeled prowess that comes with a Fuji SL-1 LE Ultegra performance road bike.
The planners behind SocialBot Events have a knack for putting together social events to help both long-time residents and newcomers navigate the DC area and meet locals. Many of these events are geared toward singles, such as speed-dating nights, which help people pair up without needing to resort to lines like, "So, do you come here often?" or, "You must have fallen from heaven, because your hair looks wind-blown and you seem confused." But SocialBot's events include activities to help folks make new friends as well, such as the winter day trips. Attendees load up into a bus and spend a day together skiing or snowboarding the slopes of Snowshoe Mountain.
Owner Greg Klein first learned the art of customer service as a child, watching his father found the store that, 37 years later, would continue to bear his name. Greg remembers, "My father would close a sale and say, 'My name is Willi Klein. If you ever have any problems, you find me⎯I'll make it right.' It is still our motto today." This commitment to customer care is passed along to the sales staff at five locations, helping them pair outdoors enthusiasts with name brand gear from Burton, Nordica, Oakley, and Ride Snowboards. Team members take pride in helping boarders and skiers find boots that conform to their feet, a seemingly small detail that can make an enormous difference in staying comfortable on the slopes, performing on halfpipes, and attaining top speed while running off with a friend’s poles.
Ski Chalet proffers the latest in snow-slicing technology with professional in-shop services and top-flight gear. Prep your skis for mountain season with a thorough tune-up, which delights snow gliders with an indulgent stone grind, bevel, and hot-wax treatment before whispering inspirational quotes in their ears and sending them back to the slopes. Lift loafers can peruse skis, boots, bindings, and poles in the pro shop, or they can complete a preexisting mountain-defeating arsenal with protective wear like GoreTex-laced gloves ($64.95) or ear warmers ($30). Newer skiers can count on friendly, helpful service to pair them with appropriate equipment.
Pacers provides a large inventory of running shoes, apparel, and more in its new P Street location. Highly trained employees, who earned a 2009 ABBIE for Best Customer Service, help customers select the proper footwear, taking into account individual fitness levels, previous injuries, running goals, and the results of Pacers' complimentary gait analysis. After the hoof assessment, match needs with fashionable racing boots from brands such as Asics, Saucony, Brooks, and Nike (average price is $100). Runners can show off triple-striped sleeves with an Adidas zip-up top ($65) or wrap themselves in Nike shorts (starting at $28), tops (starting at $25), and pants (starting at $55). To quench runner's thirst or ensure buoyancy after running into a kiddie pool, strap on a water belt ($50).
Sound Excursions describes their carefully curated group experiences as "field trips for adults." It's easy to see why: every outing takes groups to a new realm of Washington, whether it's the frothy shores of Puget Sound, inland forests and mountains, or tables at Seattle's thriving restaurants. The events held at these diverse locations range from culinary workshops on topics such as sushi-making and moonshine-tasting, to adventurous excursions with whitewater rafting or kayaking, to laid-back themed party cruises. For many outings, luxury transportation is provided.