She has been a sternman for a lobster fisherman, river running cook, mountain bike guide, ski instructor, Montessori teacher and self-proclaimed card-carrying gypsy. But the role that is in Lisa Lamberson’s blood is that of an outdoor shop owner. On March 1, Lamberson took the lead at Mountain Sports Flagstaff. Her father and company founder, Mark Lamberson, will remain involved as consultant and bookkeeper.
“I am thrilled to be able to continue our family’s dedication to outdoor pursuits and to the Flagstaff community,” said Lisa. “It gives me a great deal of pride to be involved in the activities that Mountain Sports Flagstaff represents and outfit the community with quality clothes and gear to enhance their outdoor experiences.”
At an early age, Lisa foretold her future in cursive for a Sechrist Elementary School classroom assignment. On lined school paper she wrote, “I would like to be a ski shop owner when I grow up. Because my dad is one and it looks like fun. I like skiing too, so that would be even more fun.” Early on, Lisa helped out in the store, enjoying running the cash register. For the past 10 years, she has been working alongside her father.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to buy the business,” she said. “I feel fortunate to work with my dad and have access to his ideas and longtime experience in retail.”
Part of Flagstaff’s Landscape Since 1980
Out of a love for adventure, Mark Lamberson started Mountain Sports with his brother, Bruce, in Casper, Wyoming. He expanded the company to Flagstaff in 1980 following a Northern Arizona University marketing study that identified a need for such a business.
“There was no such thing as outdoor sports stores then,” said Mark, who has been a lifelong skier and avid outdoor enthusiast, coaching skiers and serving in the Olympics as a race official and chief of course for snowboard and ski events. “It was amazing to be a participant in mountain biking and snowboarding as these sports were developing and to be out in front anticipating the needs of these fast-growing recreational activities.”
For more than 20 years, Mountain Sports was located on South Milton Road in the Greentree Village Shopping Center. Fourteen years ago, the Patagonia-focused shop opened in its current downtown location on the corner of San Francisco Street and Aspen Avenue.
“Patagonia has had a very close relationship with Mountain Sports for over 30 years,” said Patagonia Vice President of Wholesale Sales Bruce Old. “As a result of that relationship and how closely Mark and Lisa have worked with many of us here at Patagonia, we always end up calling the store ‘Patagonia Flagstaff.’ It’s a nod to our many shared priorities, especially both companies being members of 1% for the Planet, where we direct our efforts to protecting our natural world. I’ve been flattered personally to have worked with Mark over the course of the last 16 years.”
Raised on Mountain Sports
Enjoying nature was a family way of life as Mark and Rosemary Lamberson raised Lisa and her brother, Bret. They grew up ski racing, backpacking and mountain biking on the San Francisco Peaks and elsewhere throughout the West. “After we finished high school I lived all over the country and was encouraged to explore whatever I chose,” said Lisa. “There was never any pressure for either my brother or me to take over the family business.”
“This isn’t retirement for me; it’s a transition,” said Mark. “There are a lot more exciting ideas still coming in the Mountain Sports Flagstaff concept. After 40 years of running the business, things have changed dramatically. I like change, so it’s good to get a shot in the arm with another generation. Lisa can take these ideas and run farther than I have the energy to do. I’m proud the family legacy can be passed on.”
“Mountain Sports has maintained a prominent position in the outdoor recreation business since it started here,” said Arizona Snowbowl General Manager J.R. Murray. “The Lambersons have been staunch supporters of skiing and the ski area and we look forward to continuing that tradition for decades to come. Mark has done an outstanding job promoting outdoor activities including ski racing, Winterfest, Dew Downtown and many year round events. I look forward to working with Lisa and building on that success.”
Connected to Community
“I believe Mountain Sports has a very special place in our community,” said Kahtoola founder Danny Giovale, who worked as a ski tech while in high school at the Milton store. “The Lamberson family has provided outdoor enthusiasts decades of service with a deep understanding and savvy responses to an evolving marketplace. As second generation, Lisa is poised to build on this legacy and I, for one, am so happy for that!”
Mountain Sports Flagstaff was the first dealer to carry Kahtoola’s original KTS Crampon. In addition, it has the most extensive selection of Patagonia products in the Four Corners area.
The Lambersons are proud participants in the 1% for the Planet program, which gives one percent of all sales to local environmental and conservation organizations. Granting a portion of every sale allows them to give meaningful donations to passionate local organizations such as Friends of Camp Colton, Grand Canyon Youth and Flagstaff Biking Organization, to name a few. So far, Mountain Sports has been able to give some $120,000 to the Flagstaff community.
“As 1% for the Planet members, I hope customers can understand and appreciate that Mountain Sports is helping to do its part to help protect the wilderness of Flagstaff for generations to come,” said Patagonia’s Southwest Sales Manager Kris Clapper. “Lisa and the whole team are passionate about the playground in their backyard and that’s evident in the natural connections made every day in their store, which helps them build the longtime customers they have.”
Friends of Camp Colton credit the Lambersons and Mountain Sports with helping to generate enthusiasm, goodwill and support. “We are so appreciative of the ongoing involvement from Lisa, Mark and the Mountain Sports Flagstaff crew and helping Camp Colton share the gift of the great outdoors with upcoming and future generations of local kids,” said Friends of Camp Colton Executive Director Tracy Anderson.
Currently, Lisa serves on the board of directors for the Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival and is a grant committee member for the Arizona Community Foundation of Flagstaff. She is also a founding business member for Protect the Flows, a non-profit organization that seeks to maintain healthy recreational flows in the Colorado River system.
“The degree of community engagement the family and business have in supporting worthy causes and celebrating this incredible region in which we live is awesome,” added Giovale.
By Bonnie Stevens
For more information about Mountain Sports, visit MountainSportsFlagstaff.com.