Ski shop owner
Steve Sheehan is the co-owner of Bobo’s Ski & Patio, which celebrated its 50th anniversary of outfitting the valley’s skiers and snowboarders this past November. The son of original owner and founder Robert “Bobo” Sheehan, he spoke to the RN&R about the shop’s different incarnations, how often he manages to hit the slopes and the iconic Bobo’s radio ads.
So how did the store come to be?
My dad was the head coach at Middlebury College in Vermont—head ski coach, baseball coach, football coach, golf coach, tennis coach. … He was one of the most respected ski ambassadors in the industry back in the ’60s and ’50s. And, so, in 1956, he was asked to be the men’s alpine head coach of the Olympic team in Cortina, Italy. … In 1960, he was on the Olympic committee in Squaw Valley, USA. He had the good fortune to be able to come out West and see what it was like out here. And he fell in love with it because he saw 190 inches of snow and blue sky for seven days in a row. And he said, “You can’t get any better than this.” So, his plan was to eventually come out West, and in 1966, he left his job in Middlebury and moved our whole family out to Alpine Meadows. He became the managing vice president of Alpine Meadows Ski Corp. … In 1969, we moved down to Reno, and he opened up a little store called Reno Ski Shop on Wells Avenue on the west side of the road. … In 1971, we moved to a new location up on 1200 South Wells … and we remained there for 27 years, and that’s when we took over the store from my parents in 1984, and basically built it from there.
After all these years, do you guys have any real competition in town as far as ski supply goes?
Well, this is one of America’s last holdouts of specialty retail ski shops. There aren’t a lot of specialty retail ski shops left in the country—maybe 150. There’s a lot of really small shops that maybe do rental and so on and so forth, a lot of those around the country.
So, where’s your favorite ski spot and how often do you make it up during the season?
I personally will get anywhere from 20 to 50 days a year depending on a lot of factors. Mount Rose is my favorite go-to ski area because the elevation offers usually better-quality snow and it’s a convenient place. … I get my 10 or 15 runs in and I’m pretty much done for the day. And you know, I enjoy skiing the whole mountain, the front side, the backside, the trees—the Chutes are obviously real popular with me when they’re open.
Everyone who knows Bobo’s knows the radio ad—
You want to know about the “whoop-de-doo?”
I do. Where’d it come from?
In 1990, I purchased Mogul Mouse from a corporation out of Eugene, Oregon, that had 10 stores. They were going out of business. The only last two stores were this store and one in Bend, Oregon, that I knew of that were part of the original Mogul Mouse chain—10 or 11 stores. I bought this store in 1990 when they were going to go out of business, and I just called the owner in Oregon and I said, “What’s it going to take for me to take over that business?” And he said, “Not much.” … We had a deal in two days. And then I went up to Oregon. I drove a van back and someone else drove a truck with a trailer, and it was full of stuff. It had Mogul Mouse on the side of the trailer, and we drove it here and it was full of whatever was leftover in inventory, which was primarily plastic bags and a few jock straps. And then where the “whoop-de-doo” came from, it was originally part of the Mogul Mouse chain.