Rossignols and Salomons still dominate the slopes this winter, but a small custom shop in East Boston is gaining speed. “The buzz is definitely going,” says Pete Endres, one of Parlor Custom Skis’ three co-founders, who started the business in the unlikeliest of locales: a Cambridge funeral parlor’s basement.
Endres, Mark Wallace and Jason Epstein started selling their handcrafted skis during the 2013 season. They’ve since hired production manager Tyler Grees and moved to a two-room Eastie workshop that houses all manufacturing, two shop dogs and a fridge full of Narragansett—the official beer sponsor for buddies who’ve skied together since their racing team days at Williams College. Now it’s part of their 9-to-5. “My Monday was spent skiing 3 inches of fresh powder at Okemo,” Wallace says. “It’s like, this is why I started the company.”
Piste perks aside, the founders say they opened shop to bolster a boutique market that skiers out west have known for years—and prove that custom isn’t reserved for double black diamond regulars. “In a lot of ways, our custom skis can benefit the intermediate or advanced intermediate skier even more, because an advanced skier can ski almost anything,” Endres says.
For $950, customers choose one of five base models, such as the Cardinal for all-mountain skiing, or the Heron for powder. After testing a standard pair up north, skiers report back on performance, and a new pair is made from scratch. But in addition to building skis, the crew is trying to build the ski community, hosting weekly dry land workouts on Boston Common during warm-weather months as well as shop nights every other Wednesday—mark your calendars for upcoming events on Feb. 4 and 18—so enthusiasts can peek behind the curtain and swap ski stories over beer. “When we get people here and show them what we do,” Endres says, “there’s no substitute for that.”