The Sport Chalet Story

Norbert Olberz, Founder of Sport Chalet
Norbert Olberz, Founder of Sport Chalet
Sport Chalet Mountaineering (1963)
Sport Chalet Mountaineering (1963)
The original La Canada Store and Norbert and his favorite salesperson, his wife Irene.
The Original La Canada store (above). Norbert with his favorite salesperson - his wife Irene (inset).
Over 50 Sport Chalet stores are located throughout the Southwestern US
A Sport Chalet store today.

Store Features:

In-Store Services
You might call us Sport Valet. We're here to help any way we can.
Equipment Rentals
Love it or lease it. Check out all the stuff you can try before you buy. Arrive at your destination ready to go!
Dive/SCUBA Centers
Explore the depths with our team. We offer PADI certifications, rentals, equipment repair, and SCUBA charters.
Team Sales
Our team can help you suit up in style.

A Tribute To Our Founder - Norbert Olberz (1925 - 2011) » From the October 2011 issue of Inc. Magazine »
"With a firm hand and an eye for detail, he built a regional sporting-goods giant."

In 1959, a young man named Norbert Olberz...
...heard about a little ski shop for sale. It was located in a town called La Cañada, just north of Los Angeles, California. Norbert and his new wife, Irene, plunked down all of their savings and set up shop. During the first year, Norbert and Irene slept in the back of the ski shop, taking showers at night with a garden hose through a screen door. Its name: Sport Chalet.

From The Beginning, Norbert Was A Pioneer
Norbert knew that customers had a lot of questions they needed answered. He knew that customers wanted top quality equipment to enhance their sport. He knew that they required a friendly place to bring their equipment to be sized and repaired, and that they wanted experts to help them.

One day, a customer ventured into his store and told him of the opportunities in SCUBA. Sport Chalet became one of the first sporting goods stores to sell SCUBA equipment. This was a big leap of faith, given his store was at the bottom of the mountains and two hours from the Pacific Ocean. He then made the decision to be one of the first sporting goods retailers to offer a wide array of equipment for the then-obscure sports of rock climbing and backpacking - at the time only available in catalogues.

In 1974, Norbert opened a 30,000 square foot store across the street from the original location, where he built a mountain inside that included a ski ramp so skiers could hone their skills.

In 1981 Norbert doubled the size of our company by opening a store in Huntington Beach, California, and began to build a loyal following of beach customers. In 1992, Sport Chalet went public, trading on Nasdaq under the symbol "SPCH." Before it became popular, Norbert used the promise "I guarantee it" in Sport Chalet ads and on TV referring to our legendary service and selection. In 2001, Sport Chalet expanded beyond California for the first time, entering Nevada. In November 2005, Sport Chalet expanded into Arizona by opening 3 stores on one day. In 2007, Sport Chalet expanded once more by opening our first store in Utah. Today we have over 50 stores in four states and are growing!

Now, a typical Sport Chalet boasts 45,000 square feet of premium sporting goods equipment, apparel, and footwear. Each of the over 50 stores features a collection of specialty shops offering brand name apparel and equipment for beginners to experts. These shops include traditional sporting goods like golf, tennis, biking, fitness, in-line skates, baseball, and athletic footwear along with specialty sporting goods merchandise such as mountaineering, SCUBA, skiing, snowboarding, wakeboarding, and ocean kayaking.

Remaining true to Norbert's original vision, Sport Chalet is staffed with well-trained, knowledgeable sales associates with extensive experience, eager to share their knowledge and experience with customers. Sport Chalet has a top team of people, real experts in their fields, who are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to enhance our customers' shopping experience.

Norbert started many businesses over the years, including:

  • Opening a hotel at Mammoth Mountain named Sport Chalet.
  • Starting a travel agency - Sportours.
  • Starting a manufacturing company making outdoor gear - Camp 7.
  • Opening a wholesale import boot company - Lowa.
  • Creating a mountaineering and sport fashion mail order catalogue.
  • He was also a product designer and inventor and gave his advice freely to manufacturers to help make their products better.

Enhancing The Customer's Shopping Experience
Through Norbert's Core Values:

"In any case, please the customer. Never send anyone away mad or with the feeling of being turned down. The whole idea is to be as knowledgeable as possible. Not just to sell products, but provide our customers with what they really need. Over the years, Sport Chalet's growth and expansion has centered on one key element: If you provide people with superior service and products, they'll come back! Employees are the real reason or "secret" to the success of Sport Chalet. We cannot improve our company by patting ourselves on the back. Let's not brag about what we do well. We constantly look around and ask ourselves, 'How can we make it better?'"

"To see things through the eyes of the customer."

"To create ease of shopping."

"To do a thousand things a little bit better."

"To not be the biggest, but the best."

"To be the image of an athlete."

- Norbert Olberz
Founder, Sport Chalet

A Tribute To Our Founder - Norbert Olberz (1925 - 2011) »
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