Top of the mountain Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2009
Finalist
Retail Products & Services

Some people like to get away from work with a ski trip. Steve Kopitz decided to leave his job for a career in skis.

Well, there’s more to it than that. First, Summit Sports Inc. does business in a lot more than skis, as the sports equipment retailer also sells snowboards, kayaks and a large variety of equipment and apparel. But more than that, the career in skis that Kopitz — founder and president of Summit — has created is really about innovation.

That innovation came about when Kopitz, who had started the business through a purchase of Play It Again Sports franchises, decided the future of retail was more about online space than shelf space. Without opening store after store, Summit has created a large presence both in Michigan and across the country with its Web site. And as a result, Summit has taken over the Internet, allowing it to capitalize on market share in a difficult economy.

To create an online experience that could rival or surpass the feel of a retail story, Summit uses custom-designed software with a filtering system that allows users to narrow a potential purchase from hundreds of items to as few as five in a matter of moments. And, to give the online shop the feel of having a local expert, Kopitz and his employees have created video reviews from the company’s annual “Test Fest.” Each year, Summit gathers 30 to 40 experts — many of whom are employees — to sample cutting-edge skiing equipment and provide video reviews. Those testing the product also have an their biographies on the site to add credibility to their knowledge about the sport and its products.

The result is a company that resonates both with old-fashioned retail customers and today’s YouTube generation.

How to reach: Summit Sports Inc., (248) 338-9800 or www.skis.com