September 2016 | Preserve Our Paradise Campaign
Preserve our Paradise


Preserve Our Paradise Campaign Newsletter

In this issue:

Betsy Jondro & the Mad River Glen General Store
Campaign Update
A tribute to what makes Mad River special
FAQ of the month
Upcoming MRG events

Betsy Jondro and the Mad River Glen General Store

Today, the Mad River Glen General Store is a staple of the Mad River experience, with a retail space full of MRG branded merchandise and ski accessories, as well as an online presence. However, for most of Mad River’s history, the mountain store was a modest conventional ski shop operated by an outside vendor. When the previous lease expired in the spring of 2008, the Cooperative began to consider a risky new proposal to own and operate its own store. After some debate, the decision was made to proceed.

1971 season passIn a happy coincidence, longtime MRG skier Betsy Jondro had just moved to Vermont after a 30-year career in retail merchandising and management, including 14 years at TJX Corporation. This meant, of course, that she was overqualified to run a small retail store in Vermont, but soon enough Betsy had the job. She had to start the operation from scratch, with just a few fixtures purchased from the previous store. She began visiting college bookstores and other relevant retail outlets, researching vendors, and ordering the Mad River Glen logo merchandise that would form the core of the store. Given her MRG family history, Betsy had a good knowledge of the culture and clientele.  Mad River already had two iconic brands: the “Ski It If You Can” bumper sticker, and the single chair. And the mountain had an exceptionally loyal clientele.

According to Betsy, “The previous store manager told me that I’d never be able to sell anything other than inexpensive gear at MRG. But I thought to myself, skiing here is very technical, why not stock good technical gear?” That winter, the store opened, and despite the early concerns was immediately successful. In its first season of operation, the store nearly quadrupled the bottom line from the previous year. And when Betsy stocked high-quality gear, she found that Mad River skiers were actually quite receptive. But undoubtedly the core success of the store was the branded merchandise. “They were hungry for the Mad River gear,” says Betsy.

What has been Betsy’s biggest challenge? “Seventy percent of our business is from repeat customers, so I need to be constantly coming up with new items every season. Mad River has such a strong brand, and the gear is a great extension of marketing with all the merchandise out there.” She also gives credit to her great staff for the store’s continued success over the past eight years.

At the end of this month, Betsy Jondro will retire from managing the General Store and hand over the reins to Karen Derrick. Karen is a longtime MRG skier, and her sons Miles and Cole were on the Race and Freeride Teams respectively. We’d like to thank Betsy for doing such a great job of establishing a successful operation, and wish her well in her future endeavors!

Betsy Jondro

Campaign Update

We are proud to announce that the Preserve Our Paradise Campaign has surpassed the magic two million dollar mark, with $2,017,000 committed as of late September. This milestone gives us great confidence for the success of the campaign over the coming months. Recently, the primary focus has been to build up the volunteer network in preparation for a push in soliciting this fall and winter. A dozen new volunteers were recruited, bringing the total number of volunteers up to 40. This phase, called the “Leadership Division,” represents a broadening of the campaign from the initial phase, which focused on individuals closest to the mountain.

We continue to be encouraged by the tremendous generosity of our donors, who are making pledges on average 12 times larger than the very successful Single Chair campaign, a tribute to the loyalty of Mad River Glen skiers. Campaign Chair Annika Holtan will be making a presentation about the campaign at the Green & Gold shareholder town meeting, and we hope to see some of you there!

Cat bowl trail work
A summer mountain work day crew working on one of the regeneration zones in the Catamount Bowl. 

A tribute to what makes Mad River special

By Brian Holtan

Recently, we held a special reunion of former Mad River Glen ski school instructors at the Mad River Barn. In attendance were Alan Moats, Peter Palmedo, Glen Cousins, Rick Moulton, and Steve (Lefty) Rennau. We all met as young instructors on the Dixi Nohl ski school during the winter of 1976-77. Even though it has been forty years since that memorable season, we are all still friends, and most of us still ski regularly at Mad River. Peter and his wife, Britt, made the trip from Sun Valley for their visit, but the rest of us are still close to the mountain.

At dinner we reminisced about those early years, and each of us, wives included, recounted the first time we had ever skied Mad River. All the wives had a common thread in their recollections – they were brought by their boyfriends (us) to what they imagined was a forbidding and difficult area. Of course, it turns out that they grew to love it as much as we did.

I don’t think any of us could have imagined in our young minds back then that forty years hence we would all still be friends and have such a strong connection to the mountain. Most ski areas have seen drastic changes over the last four decades, but Mad River Glen today is still mostly the same intimate place we knew then, and as the original bond for our friendship, we will always call it our home mountain.

Brian Holtan and his family are proud supporters of the Preserve Our Paradise Campaign. 

Ski School reunion

FAQ of the Month:
What is Mad River Glen doing to generate additional sources of revenue?

The capital improvements funded by the Preserve our Paradise campaign will result in several enhancements to Mad River Glen’s long term revenue prospects. As a result of expanding the number of seasonal lockers, rental income for the Cooperative will be tripled. The campaign will also fund the expansion of ski rental and repair operations, allowing for greater operational efficiency. An improved Basebox kitchen will enhance efficiency and result in lower energy costs. Birdcage improvements will allow additional revenue-generating skier services. In addition, the campaign will establish the Stark Mountain Paradise Fund. This endowment will generate annual income to fund eligible projects on an ongoing basis, reducing the need to fund capital improvements out of the Cooperative’s modest annual operating profits. The fund has already received $235,000 in funds from early donations, and we thank those donors for their exceptional generosity!

Late summer at MRG

Upcoming MRG events

October 1
Green and Gold weekend:
Board of Trustees Meeting, 8:00 am
Mountain work day, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Fall foliage chairlift lift rides, 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Stark Mountain Hill Climb Running Race, 10:00 am
Shareholder Town Meeting, 5:00 pm

October 2
Green and Gold weekend:
Fall foliage chairlift lift rides, 10:00 am - 2:30 pm
Allen Clark Memorial Hill Climb Bike Race, 10:00 am
Chicken BBQ, 11:30 am

October 8
Mountain work day, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm
Fall foliage chairlift lift rides, 10:00 am - 2:30 pm

October 9 
Fall foliage chairlift lift rides, 10:00 am - 2:30 pm

October 15
Early pass rate & free kids pass deadline
Mountain work day, 9:00 am - 3:30 pm

November 12
Board of Trustees Meeting, 8:00 am
Annual Waitsfield PTA Ski & Skate Sale, 9:00 am - 4:00 pm

November 13
Annual Waitsfield PTA Ski & Skate Sale, 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

November 19
Big Kicker at American Flatbread, 5:00 pm - 10:00 pm

December 10
Board of Trustees Meeting, 8:00 am

More info at Mad River Glen's Event Calendar
Campaign Cabinet

Chair: Annika Holtan    Members at Large: Lars Bruns, Bob Dillon, Jim Elkind, Meg Hourihan, Betsy Jondro, Karen Lloyd, John Nesbett, Pamela Nesbett, Eric Palola, Penny Parson, Greg Scott, Debra Steines, John Tobin, Brooks Ware
Look for our next newsletter in November!

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