Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods at 324 Scott Street in downtown Wausau will celebrate 65 years in business September 18-21, 2014. The store was founded in 1949 by Allen Shepherd and Stan Schaller, brothers-in-law who met during WWII. The store’s merchandise mix has evolved with the times, and the business continues to grow.
Shepherd & Schaller Sporting Goods first store, in 1949, was only a few hundred square feet. You could call it a “tiny box store.” But it was big enough for Allen Shepherd & Stan Schaller to stock what folks in the area wanted for hunting, fishing, camping, skiing, diving, bowling and athletics. A new location up the block a few years later let them expand their offering as customer expectations grew. They had grown to become a “small box” store at 324 Scott Street in Downtown Wausau.
Shep’s (as the locals know us) has always been about relationships. Al and Stan knew their customers by name and their suppliers too. They rolled up their sleeves and served the community and the industry. In no time at all, the they were making their mark on the local, regional and national landscape, leading the local Rotary Club, chairing the Wisconsin Merchants Federation, and directing the National Sporting Goods Association, to name a few.
Jump ahead more than 60 years and only a few things have changed. Shep’s has refined our product mix to specialize in Outdoor products for skiers and snowboarders, paddlers and cyclists, water sports lovers, disc golfers, footwear fanatics and trend setters who follow fashion hand-in-hand with function. Repairs and rentals get a lot of attention, as well as custom orders. We’re still family owned and operated and as always our team is staffed by enthusiastic experts who play as hard as they work. We still support local teams and organizations with funds, time and talent, and partner with people who get things done for the communities they serve, like Nations Best Sports, so we can bring you big-box prices with mom-and-pop service.
According to Theresa Shepherd: “With competition at every turn, an economy we all struggle in, and only 24 hours in a day, is it worth it? We can’t answer for anyone else, but because ours is a toy store for grown-ups in a community that values integrity, family and the environment, the answer is Yes! We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Who wouldn’t love our job? We offer the coolest gear for outdoor enthusiasts, the manufacturers we work with believe in the things that matter, the events we host and support make a difference, the community we work in appreciates the effort and most importantly the customers we serve are our friends. As Tom Hanks says in the film You’ve Got Mail, to us “It’s personal.”
With the Ski Department occupying 90% of the sales floor September through March; Shepherd & Schaller is integral to the local ski community. We host annual used equipment swaps, fundraisers for local ski and snowboard teams, race league nights. We sponsor an annual New Gear Demo each March at Wisconsin’s premier ski destination – Granite Peak Ski Area. We develop contests and organize community events including the Warren Miller film premier and Après Ski Party. The entire staff is involved at Granite Peak Ski Area as ski and snowboard instructors, ski patrols, racers, gatekeepers, etc. Our own Brian Trybula is the Salomon Pro in the Midwest, and Josh Haight is the K2 Snowboard Pro for the area. Seth Alwin is an Iron Man and telemark expert. When he’s not body kiting or grass skiing, Tony Selenske is setting new boundaries for skiing far outside the lines. Like the rest of our team, all are known far outside of Wausau for their talent on-snow and expert guidance in the store.
What makes Shepherd and Schaller unique?
Shep’s is a one-of-a-kind place to shop and a cornerstone of the Downtown Wausau community. Customers shop three floors, including our famous basement “Dungeon.” Our building is 115-years-old and was once the home to the first JC Penney store east of the Mississippi. Some say it’s haunted (you can Google it). Our sales floor is merchandised like a well-loved cabin, and features artifacts and furnishings from our long history – everything gets re-used. We rent skis, boards, snowshoes and ice skates in winter, at prices much lower than local ski areas, and we offer long-term leases as well.
But what makes us truly unique is our 65-year history, which provides unparalleled insight into how we run our business and serve our customers. Our owner Robb Shepherd has been at the helm since 1986. He is known and respected by ski and snowboard suppliers industry-wide and often serves as a consultant to Nations Best Sports in behalf of other small shops trying to complete with big box stores. Our 10 full-time employees collectively have 118 years experience in our store alone to help customers have the best time possible on snow, trails, or wherever the outdoors takes them. We respect our suppliers and the challenges they face and we consider our sales representatives friends, understanding that they can help us make great decisions, satisfy our customers and grow our business.
The best part of what we do is watch excited customers head out with new gear that is just what they wanted, knowing we took care of all the steps necessary to bring those products to town and position them to make someone’s day. We love hearing stories of adventure and family when folks come back to share. (Join us during Christmas break – Shep’s is a gathering place for friends who can’t wait to reconnect!)
When dad, Allen Shepherd, coined the original shop tag line “It pays to play” he didn’t mean we’d get rich working this hard. He meant it is critical for personal and family health and happiness to include exercise and relaxation in your life. He was right, and we feel fortunate to have 65 years of experience to guide us. So while there are moments of craziness in every day, we’re not crazy. We honestly enjoy being an independent retailer.
Contributed content from Shepherd and Schaller Sporting Goods.