There must be something in the waters of Deep Cove…
“It certainly was a great place to grow up,” says 41-year-old Graham Turner. Iconoclast, visionary, retail genius, motorcycle nut, gear innovator, outlaw: call him what you will, the man behind the Showcase brand — one of the most successful snowboard franchises on the continent — is yet another one of those legendary Deep Cove dudes.
“You know with that mix of ocean and mountains, the Cove was an incredible spot for kids,” he explains. And chuckles. “I remember hitchhiking up to Mt Seymour as a 14 year old every day of the winter after school. My older brother had gotten me a job at the rental shop there.” He laughs. “I come from a family of ‘wrenchers’,” he says. “For me, it was the ideal way to earn money…”
And he’s never had a reason to change his mind. For 25 years now, Turner has been somewhere near the leading edge of mountain-sports retailing and merchandising. “It’s been an unbelievable ride,” he tells me. “I couldn’t have timed it better if I tried. I mean, I lived through the birth and development of two major sports — snowboarding and mountain biking. Went to school with guys like Lumpy Leidel. I’ve got absolutely nothing to complain about.”
In fact, he’s got a lot to celebrate. For this week marks the beginning of a new adventure for Showcase Snowboards as the retail mavens at W/B have decided to take their mountain-based store philosophy to the city. And Turner, who has been with the store since the very beginning, couldn’t be happier….
“This is huge for us,” he tells me in that slow-mouth, pseudo-tough North Van drawl of his. “We had a licensing agreement with Westbeach that dates back to 1999. And I think it was a great partnership. But now we feel that the Showcase brand is strong enough to stand on its own.”
So no more Westbeach shops? “That’s right,” he says with a canary-eating grin. “All three are Showcase stores now… even the one in Vancouver.”
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves again.
Turner isn’t one to talk about himself a lot. In a crowd, he’ll just stand back and let the other guys crow. But get him on his own and ask him the right questions — that’s when the stories really start to flow. “The early ’80’s was a really great time to be a kid on the North Shore,” he tells me. And chuckles some more. “There we were, building three-ply mahogany snowboards at school in the water-ski press that our woodwork teacher, Mr Payne, had designed…”