Alpenglow Sports: A Ski Shop that Gives Back

On Tahoe City’s main street exists a ski and climbing shop that is more than what it appears. With a consistent base of local customers and visitors, Alpenglow Sports has been a city staple since its opening in 1979. Its wooden cozy interior and friendly atmosphere has attracted a lot of thrill seekers who are drawn to taking on the mountains. With the current COVID pandemic, the shop has had to adjust their policies to correspond with social distancing measures and took a hit on sales badly during the onset of stay-at-home orders issued by the government—like many other small businesses who have suffered during lockdowns. But after some help from the Tahoe community, Alpenglow has continued to have lines out the door onto the sidewalks of Main Street. While Alpenglow is mainly a ski shop utilized for gear and other like necessities, it is also a ski shop that gives back, thanks to the efforts of the generous owner Brenden Madigan and their successful fundraising for local non-profits.  

Ski Shop that Gives Back
The inside of Alpenglow ski shop. Looks warm and inviting, doesn't it? Photo by Scott Rokis/Courtesy of Alpenglow

This fall, Alpenglow sports raised over $300,000 for local NPOs while they hosted an event called the Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series. This is an annual event is centered around sharing stories, and photos of adventures had in the mountains while paying it forward through inspiration and charity. Alpenglow has hosted slideshows for many figures of outdoor sports including American rock climber Tommy Caldwell and ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson.

During the fifteen years of the Winter Speaker Series history, over half a million dollars in total has been raised and given to various non-profits like the Sierra Avalanche Center and the Boys and Girls Club of North Lake Tahoe. This event is a special time for the local residents and visitors to experience togetherness and show their support for improving their community. It is a free event, but all proceeds from raffles and bar sales go to non-profits. The Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series is just one of the experiential events that Brendan Madigan, the owner of Alpenglow, has created in North Lake Tahoe. There is also the Broken Arrow Skyrace and the Alpenglow Mountain Festival.

ski shop that gives back
The Donor Party, established in 2018, is the philanthropic arm of the Alpenglow Winter Speaker Series. Photo courtesy of Alpenglow

“Alpenglow has always been an influential part of the Tahoe and greater-than-Tahoe Community,” expresses Dave Nettle, who has also had a slideshow featured in the Winter Speaker Series about his experiences as a mountain guide and skier.

The owner of Alpenglow Sports is Brenden Madigan, who has been working at Alpenglow since 2003. He purchased the shop in 2011, and since then has made it a personal mission to center the shop’s importance around reciprocating the love the long standing community has that has kept Alpenglow alive in its forty year life span. “I think people derive happiness not from things, but from experiences and relationships. Our whole business centers arounds giving back to the community,” says Madigan.

Madigan’s efforts have created a centerpiece for events and fundraising, and during the current pandemic, he stresses that the need has never been greater saying, “People are struggling. My goal is to move the needle in the community by making direct impact in people’s lives.”

It was during the initial COVID lockdowns that Madigan reached out to his community for Alpenglow. Its future was looking grim. The response was overwhelming, and they were able to sell over $100,000 worth of gift cards to keep going. But since then – business hasn’t stopped and Madigan plans to keep his doors open for a long time.

And truly, what a perfect example of the power of giving individuals who stop at nothing to help improve the place where they live by exercising voluntaryism and kindness. North Lake Tahoe, you have wonderful residents and small business owners whose tireless work allows the wheel to keep turning.

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