Hoodoo’s owners have purchased the Cascade Station building on Cascade Avenue in downtown Sisters, where they will open a ski shop. photo by Jim Cornelius
Hoodoo’s owners have purchased the Cascade Station building on Cascade Avenue in downtown Sisters, where they will open a ski shop. photo by Jim Cornelius
Hoodoo has been a fixture in Sisters Country for 83 years. It is Central Oregon’s original winter ski area. Many an Oregonian grew up on Hoodoo’s 800-acre terrain. It is home to Sisters High School ski team, as well as drawing thousands of visitors annually. Roughly 70 percent hail from the west side of the pass with weekly regulars from Eugene, Albany, Salem, Lebanon, Detroit and other McKenzie and Santiam rivers townships.

Hoodoo has an economic impact on Sisters, although there is no measurable — only anecdotal — data. Its greater significance is likely its legacy and proximity for affordable winter sports. Hoodoo’s owners have large real estate holdings that include over 2,400 rental properties, plus 800 storage units in the Valley and Bend area.

They have now purchased the 5,331-square-foot Cascade Station building on the southeast corner of East Cascade Avenue and Larch Street.

The 1,420-square-foot retail ski operation will be located on the ground floor. Its initial purpose will be to take pressure off the on-mountain shop, where rentals lines can exceed two hours on busy days and weekends. The remainder of the building has seven tenants, who are expected to remain.

According to Matthew McFarland, Hoodoo general manager, rentals are growing and becoming more of a European model of 1 in 4 customers renting vs. 1 in 8 or 10 in the States. The Sisters location will start with 300 new pieces for their expected opening on Wednesday, February 10. The venture has been under consideration for 10 years and seriously for the last three. The on-mountain shop boasts 900 skis and 400 boards for rent. Both locations will offer rentals (from single-day to season-long), sales, and service.

For the warmer months, McFarland plans a first for Sisters: The ski shop will switch gears and offer sales and service for skateboard enthusiasts.

When asked if the Hoodoo shop expansion into Sisters would impact their business, Blazin Saddles Manager, Matt Gilbert, answered: “Not really. We are primarily a bike dealer and repair shop with an active bicycle rental business. Our ski business is limited to tune-ups and a few items of gear, like goggles.” He had high regard for Hoodoo and cited them as friends whose owners and employees are customers of the bike business. He added: “Some of our seasonal employees work at Hoodoo in the winter, so we have a longstanding friendship with them.”

Brad Boyd, owner of Eurosports — who has been selling, renting, and servicing equipment for ski and board enthusiasts for 31 years — points out the good year Hoodoo is having and, by extension, his business.

“COVID’s only benefit may be forcing more people outdoors. Mt. Bachelor’s approach to limiting the number of skiers in their effort to mitigate the virus’ spread has instituted an unpopular parking allocation system that has driven hundreds of skiers and boarders to Hoodoo,” Boyd said.

Notwithstanding that Eurosports, like Blazin Saddles, does the bulk of their business on the bicycle side — sales, service, and rentals — the store does offer a full range of snowshoe, ski, and snowboard rental packages for cross-country, backcountry, and downhill adventure. Hoodoo’s retail expansion could be construed as a detriment to Eurosport’s ski business.

But the firm has a popular food court and craft beer component to round out their operations, leaving Boyd to say: “We’ve had a great relationship with Hoodoo. They send us people who want to rent downhill, backcountry, snowboards, snowshoes and cross-country gear when they run out or their lines are an hour or two. They know we’re a ski shop, and they trust us to have excellent equipment and service to get people up on the slopes having fun.”

The Hoodoo team prefers to see their expansion as bringing more total snow sport business to Sisters. They do not plan, for example, to offer snowshoes for sale or rent, instead directing customers for these needs to Eurosports, with whom they hope to expand their cross-marketing. It’s the philosophy of making the pie bigger, not making more slices in the same pie.