Parlor Skis Are Built for Speed
On the steepest slopes from Vermont to Colorado, a pair of handbuilt custom skis is the ultimate accessory. Built to a skier’s unique style, they can seriously up your game. And some of the best around are made in a low-slung industrial building workshop in East Boston, within earshot of Logan Airport.
A dog named Mason greets you at the door of the shop, along with the scent of fresh-cut wood. Inside, you’ll find former Williams College ski racers Mark Wallace, Jason Epstein, and Pete Endres tweaking CAD files or precisely sanding a deck. When they’re not hitting powder, that is.
After the trio graduated in 2004, Wallace became a semiprofessional skier, while his friends got real jobs. They kept in touch. All three were tinkerers, and when Wallace left the circuit in 2007, they started experimenting with ski construction in the basement of a Cambridge funeral parlor owned by Epstein’s cousin. One night over beers, they decided to make it a business. Today, Parlor Skis—named after their first workshop—is Boston’s only custom-ski shop.
The company’s skis are made by hand from a composite wood from Washington State, vertically laminated to improve flexibility. “We didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Wallace says. “They’ve been building skis like this since 1950.” The trick, he says, is in “what materials you use and how you put them together. That’s what makes it pop; that’s where the magic is.” It takes Wallace and his team approximately 8 to 10 hours to make a pair of skis, and demand is so high right now that the turnaround time is three weeks.
Their customers aren’t just serious skiers—weekend enthusiasts frequent the shop as well. “People think, Oh, custom skis, you gotta be really, really good. But the majority of our customers want something that is personalized. They want to connect with a product, and they want something that is going to work. We guarantee our fits,” Wallace says.
The business partners regularly demo their skis at regional resorts. But you’re also likely to spot them flying down the slopes themselves. “It’s rare that somebody says, ‘My favorite run is X’ and we haven’t skied on it,” Wallace says.
Skis start at $950, Parlor Skis, 175 William F. McClellan Highway, East Boston, 413-884-4747, parlorskis.com.