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News KIT LENDER: An Innovative Solution to the Financial and Logistical Challenges of Ski Clothing

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photo of the author Gregg Blanchard

 May 3, 2021

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If there’s one trend in ski resort travel that I’m most excited about, it’s the fact that so many talented people are trying to solve the logistical nightmare that is a family ski vacation.

At the center of that movement is KIT LENDER. Based in Stowe, Vermont and inspired by the family ski shop, KIT LENDER gives travelers a way to easily and affordably rent top-of-the-line clothing for their trips. No more oversized luggage fees, no more lost bags, no cheap or poorly-fitting gear that ruins a day outdoors.

We chatted with KIT LENDER’s CEO, Forrest Shinners, to learn more about their story and model.

Forrest, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you end up at KIT LENDER?

Growing up as the youngest son of two ski shop workers, it’ll come as no surprise that I’m an avid skier. With the scrabble slopes of Stowe, Vermont as my backyard, I grew up learning to love all outdoor activities. And as ski shop owners, you can only imagine what the closets at our house looked like. For years we’ve been bringing friends home to deck them out for whatever outdoor adventure may come our way.

I can only imagine. You were already lending KITs, so when did that “A-ha!” moment come for KIT LENDER as a business?

In the winter of 2014 I was doling out the usual flurry of jackets, pants and mitts. A friend who had shown up to Vermont in the dead of winter wearing nothing but sneakers and jeans said, “I feel like a pro! This is awesome. You should charge for this.”

And, thus, KIT LENDER was born.

screenshot of gear available on kit lender

Great companies like yours all solve a problem or a key pain point and it sounds like you’ve found a big one. Walk us through that problem a bit more and what it means for travelers and skiers.

First, if you don’t have access to high quality winter clothes, activities like skiing and snowboarding can be off putting. It’s hard to find quality ski gear without having to purchase it and these large up-front costs never pay off. We’ve met lots of people who have either never skied before or only ski a few times a year. These people have no reason to buy all new snow apparel. This is especially true for families of young kids who are constantly growing out of clothes.

Second, when you’re fully kitted out in the best gear, skiing and snowboarding are just a lot more fun. Whether you’re a novice or were raised on the slopes, our goal at KIT LENDER is to bring you the same gear the pros use, without cleaning out your wallet. So on your next adventure, remember you’re not out until you’re #kittedout.

Third, carrying winter clothes in your luggage is a hassle, not to mention the extra baggage fees or the risk of losing luggage.

KIT LENDER eliminates worrying about storage, waste, and provides new gear to always look good in. And, more importantly, to stay warm and protected in. You add all this up and I believed KIT LENDER could provide a unique opportunity.

So how does this work from the customer’s perspective?

It’s a really simple, four-step process.

  1. A guest starts by browsing our selection of apparel and choosing what they want to rent.
  2. Their KIT is then delivered directly to their destination for free.
  3. They go out and enjoy their gear.
  4. When they’re done, they just drop it in the mail in their pre-postmarked box for an easy return process.

graphic illustrating how kit lender works

You mentioned cost. What does price look like for KIT rentals?

We’re able to offer nationwide ski rental clothing for about 10% of the purchase price on average. And we also offer a huge variety of styles, premium brands, and free shipping and returns. A full KIT – jacket, pants, goggles, and gloves – can be rented for as low as $30/day.

Wow, that’s really impressive. I’ve heard from co-workers in Stowe that you were featured on Shark Tank. What other exciting milestones have you had along the way?

A few months ago we announced an incredible new partnership between us and Vail Resorts. Vail Resorts has a newly enhanced ski and snowboard rental program, Epic Mountain Rentals, and they brought us in to solve their guest’s apparel needs.

That’s fantastic! Sounds like you have a lot of momentum. What’s next for you and KIT LENDER?

Coming up soon will be new collections including a camping/backpacking collection as well as a triathlon collection.

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