BootDoctors, Meet Sam Tischendorf: Runner, Biker, Foot Doc Extraordinaire
“The (Boot)Doctor is in the House” is a series from beloved family-owned and operated outdoor retailer BootDoctors all about sharing the power of mountain life: adventure, style, gear, and community in the Telluride region. Here the good guys always get to ski powder and bag summits – and sunsets are always spectacular.
This week, the focus is on one of The BootDoctors’ star employees, Sam Tischendorf.
When I meet up with BootDoctors employee Sam Tischendorf on a recent fall morning, she is fresh from completing her third Imogene Pass Run — the annual high-country race that travels 17.1 miles from Ouray to Telluride. It was her best Imogene yet: the weather was fantastic; she finished in 4:11; and her feet felt great. Still do.
If you know Tischendorf, that last detail won’t surprise you. That’s because the three-year BootDoctor employee is a real life bootdoctor. A podiatrist, that is.
At BootDoctors, Tischendorf translates her expertise of anatomy, musculature, and biomechanics into custom footbeds, custom ski boots and the best foot-and-leg support for each customer who walks in the door.
She applies the expertise to herself, too — she wore a pair of Solomon Sense Rides with custom footbeds for the Imogene.
Be it ski boot or biking cleat, Tischendorf’s not shy about her conviction for proper foot attire. Feet, Tischendorf contends, are the under-appreciated workhorse of the body. We should give them love.
“It’s the last thing that we think about, and yet it does the most work in our body,” she said. “You think of the size of your foot compared to rest of body, and yet it has so much load, so many little bones and little muscles. They’re really phenomenal things, our feet and legs.”
Tischendorf grew up in Brisbane, Australia, where she trained and was certified in biometrics and podiatry. Through family and former store employees, she became connected to BootDoctors; before long she found herself moving to Telluride to work at the establishment.
At BootDoctors, which makes a point of hiring people who are both knowledgeable about sports equipment and outdoor enthusiasts themselves, Tischendorf fits right in; she skis and snowboards, mountain bikes, hikes and runs. And along with making sure her feet are clad in the right footwear for each sport, she enjoys extending the favor to others.
That entails examining a person’s feet, legs and overall body mechanics, considering their sport and objectives, and creating the most optimal situation for their feet. That can range from finding the biking cleat that works best with the person’s hip alignment all the way to creating custom footbeds — a process that entails taking casts of people’s feet and building insoles tailored to specific needs.
Some people might consider such foot coddling excessive. But Tischendorf says custom foot care makes all the difference when it comes to precision, performance, circulation and happiness of the experience.
“There are so many benefits, it’s kind of hard to pick one,” she explained. “But in the end your comfort, support and performance are greatly improved.”
Look for Tischendorf out on local trails, or find her in the shop. She’s the one with the Aussie accent. And she loves questions.
“Come in an inquire,” she said. “There’s no such thing as a silly question. I’m full of information, useful and useless.”
More about BootDoctors Ski, Snowboard & Bike Shop (from the desk of Penelope Gleason):
It was the winter ski season of 1985. Bob Gleason looked up from the boot-fit bench at Taos Ski Valley and caught the glances of the folks lined up out the door. Anxious faces of skiers.
“Bring us your sore, cold, numb, battered feet…and we will make them able to ski again,” thought the grinning Irishman as he labored to bend the stiff plastic of a ski boot to his bidding.
Ski boots in the eighties were only slightly better than torture devices. They had, in fact, improved substantially from the old days of leather, but hard plastics and packed-out liners more often than not tamped down a skier’s enthusiasm.
Bob Gleason had dedicated his professional life to making ski boots more comfortable and better performing.
After a stint at Hanson boots, where he addressed a number of key problems presented by skiers and many pro athletes, Bob was drawn to the emerging ski mecca of Taos Ski Valley by the famous ski pioneer Ernie Blake.
Now Bob Gleason and his partner Bob Reminger were struggling to keep up with demand for their boot-fitting skills. The need for a new ski shop with a focus on boot-fitting became glaringly obvious.
In 1986, the two Bobs started their own shop in Taos Ski Valley, with a central focus on the highest quality ski boot-fitting. They were joined by Linda Gleason and, later, by Kyle Reminger in the shop, where they added ski clothing and accessories into the mix. It was a smart business model: once skier’s boots came off, shoeless individuals were confined to the store for the better part of an hour. Why not pass the time browsing all the cool gear while waiting for your boots to be altered?
The original shop and the newer Telluride stores stand on a foundation built on the combined values of deep knowledge, quality workmanship and products, customer service, and personal passion for skiing and other mountain, trails, and river-based sports. All the folks who work at BootDoctors live in and love the outdoors and are always ready, willing, and able to share their expertise to help others have great outdoors experiences too.
The TSV BootDoctors store was at first inconveniently located, away from the Main Street traffic stream and across a river. Some devotees scrambled through the frozen river bed to reach the shop rather than hike around. That was remedied in the darkness of one night, when the landlord, JB Cottam, snuck in a new bridge, much to the surprise of the ski area owners and competitors.
The rest is history…
It is history that stretches over 30 years of world-renowned boot-fitting done on site at the highest quality ski shop, still owned and run by two families, the Gleasons and the Remigers. Many awards decorate the walls for “top boot-fitting” and “most knowledgeable staff” – many of whom have been with the business for more than 20 years.
Loyalty is the key element to survival. Loyalty has taken BootDoctors through droughts and fierce local competition, as well as competition from big sporting goods chains and the rapid growth of on-line shopping. Loyalty of the staff and loyalty of the customers, who return generation after generation, bringing children and grandchildren for gear and services.
In 1996, Bob Gleason, who had been exploring the landscape of ski area retail as he traveled teaching Master Ski Tech and Masterfit Bootfitting clinics all over North America, became enamored of the rustic town of Telluride, which was on the verge of a major revival with a new owner of the ski area. Gleason moved to Telluride and one year later decided to open a BootDoctors store in the quickly growing Mountain Village. The need for quality boot-fitting and a homegrown, old fashioned, owner-operated ski store fit his skills well.
Over 20 years in Telluride, the BootDoctors grew to encompass a large storefront in Mountain Village and take over the Paragon Sports stores, another locally owned sporting goods outfit. The expansion allowed BootDoctors’ customers to benefit from the master boot-fitting and high-quality products on both sides of the mountain.
In 1998, Penelope Gleason joined the crew as marketing director after a stint in retail and inventory control. The Gleasons’ daughters, Kelli and Galena, joined the business after college and rose to the ranks of management and top buyers.
Purchase of the Paragon stores allowed the merchandise mix to reflect another of the family’s passions: cycling. Biking had been one of Gleason’s summer recreational passions – along with river-guiding since the 1970s.
BootDoctors also grew their summer offerings in Telluride to include rafting, paddle boarding, mountain bike rentals, retail, repair, and tours. In Taos, they added a store in the downtown in collaboration with the area’s top fly fishing outfitter, Solitary Angler.
The same quality and passion found in the boot-fitting department permeates the other departments, from ski rentals to outdoor clothing, bikes and guided adventure tours.
Never known to rest on its laurels, BootDoctors became the first entity in Telluride to offer Fat Tire Bikes for rent, sale, and tours.
Quality, knowledge, passion for sport and personal service are values being carried forward by the awesome staff at all five BootDoctors stores today.
The same big grin that sparkles on the ski slope, under his bike helmet, or in the boot-fit room shines as Bob watches his daughters Kelli and Galena continue the traditions while buying hard and soft goods, managing different departments in the business, and excelling in skiing, biking, and river-running.
Bob knows the future looks good for the next generation of BootDoctors and their loyal customers.
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