INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — This weekend, two college buddies will host the grand opening of the business they have been dreaming of opening since they met in the early 90s.
Joe Bartorelli’s and Kurt Okraski’s love for outdoor sports made them friends at the University of Nevada, Reno, back then. Now, the business partners own Redemption Sports — an outdoor sports retailer in Incline Village.
For the party, Redemption Sports will host games and prizes, serve pulled pork sliders and cotton candy, and have a 15-person photo booth, as well as an end-of-summer sale.
The store opened in the old Porter’s location earlier this summer, and Joe and Kurt are excited to share their high quality products and extensive knowledge with the outdoor sports community in Incline.
“It’s a niche up here that needed to be filled,” Kurt said. “We all go down to Reno and shop and run errands but why when you can find high quality up here?”
Redemption Sports hopes to be a one-stop-shop for outdoor gear.
“We’ve had a great response from community,” Kurt said. “Originally when we started we wanted a more hiking, backpacking and camping focus but the community asked for kayaks and fishing gear.”
Redemption Sports sells inflatable kayaks and paddleboards, and with the rising popularity of the two sports, it’s been difficult to keep them in stock.
“We want to be a place where everyone in North Lake Tahoe can come to have their outdoor needs met,” Marketing Manager Nicole Olson said.
LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED
The fact that Redemption Sports has a marketing director, a well thought out business plan and a variety of brands in their store has led many to believe Redemption Sports is a chain.
“We know you have to drive business, build a brand, let people know you’re out there and that you’re serious,” Kurt said.
While the crew is glad its level of professionalism comes off as corporate, staff wants Incline Village to know Redemption Sports is locally owned and operated.
“We want people who live here not to have to go to Reno or shop online,” Nicole said. “We want them to be able to make and spend their dollar locally. We always have our doors and ears open for people who want us to carry new products or have ideas of how to support the community.”
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
The store’s name has caused quite a stir. People wonder if it’s after the Bob Marley song or means that the store sells second-hand gear.
Neither are true. Kurt said the name has different meanings for everyone.
“It evokes an emotional response,” he said. “It’s about overcoming life’s challenges and obstacles through other successes, overcoming obstacles in the outdoors as well.”
For general manager Tim Brown, “the definition of redemption is falling and getting back up,” which is something all boarders are familiar with, whether it be a snowboard or paddleboard.
FRIENDS AND BUSINESS PARTNERS
Redemption Sports is not the first business Kurt and Joe have owned together, and they hope to apply what they have learned over the years to their retail business.
“We’ve come full circle,” Kurt said. “We’ve had our ups and downs and have learned from all of that, and that’s what we hope to do with this business — not have to learn the hard way.”
Joe is from Elko, and Kurt is from New York, where they both grew up fishing and hiking, skiing and playing oudoors.
Both men said they knew Tahoe would always be the best backyard for them to play.
“We wanted to bring something that revolved around our passion,” Kurt said.
Originally skeptical of working with his friend, Kurt was sure that “friends can’t work together.”
But now he admits how well they do.
“We’re not alike which makes it work,” Kurt said with a laugh, adding that Joe is more of the big ideas thinker while he himself enjoys operations side of things. “And we both enjoy what our roles have become.”
Redemption Sports is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days per week. The Grand Opening party will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. this Saturday. The end of summer sale will last through Sunday.
“It’s a niche up here that needed to be filled.”