Talking Shop: Le Feet Lab | SkyHiNews.com

Talking Shop: Le Feet Lab

Hank Shell
hshell@skyhidailynews.com

Le Feet Lab offers complete custom ski boots including custom liners and custom orthotics. Le Feet Lab also offers canting, alignment and any adjustment necessary for the perfect fitting boot.

Owner Jacques Thomas and daughter Jacqueline create custom orthotics for activities including cycling, running, ice hockey, golf and hiking.

Jacque and Jacqueline, both certified master boot fitters from Masterfit University, exclusively offer a three-piece shell from Dalbello and a special edition ZipFit liner.

For a free consultation or advice or to schedule an appointment, call 970-726-9841.

For more information, visit lefeetlab.com.

Jacques Thomas, owner/founder, Le Feet Lab, 78878 U.S. 40 Winter Park, CO 80442

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How long have you been in business in Winter Park?

37 years

How did you get started in boot fitting?

I used to teach and coach. I worked with the French and U.S. ski teams; I was a racing manager for Nordica and also head coach of the Rossignol professional ski team. We won two world pro team championship titles. After that I was getting beat up from traveling. I'd been doing that all my life so I decided to settle down. I moved to Winter Park in 1979 and opened four shops doing ski rentals, sales and boot fitting. Seventeen years ago, I decided to downsize everything to exclusively dedicate the shop to custom boot fitting.

Is it a hard business to break into?

It takes a lot of time to practice, to learn and master the art of boot fitting, and to study and learn about the foot. The foot is a very complex thing. If you don't know anything about the basic anatomy then you can screw up and you can hurt people.

What is your business mission?

We want to give everybody who comes here the best fitting custom ski boots they can dream of and correct all their foot problems. We design our own custom orthotics and over the last 20 years have developed a very advanced technology and product. We get a lot of referrals from doctors and surgeons around the country.

What are you keys to success?

Often people come in the shop, they go out skiing, and we don't see them again. But sometimes people will return once or twice for some minor adjustments. It's easy for us to do. We don't want them to deal with any problems. We want them to come back until everything is perfect. If they have a problem on the mountain, it's negative advertising for us, so we want to make sure that everybody goes out and sells boots for us because of our service. What we do for them is a revelation. Everybody comes here and says, "Why didn't I do this before?"

What are some of the challenges you face?

The big challenge here is being close to Denver with a lot of big franchise discount stores. Also, buying ski boots online is a concern. It's a handicap, but it's also an advantage because they sell cheap boots to people, but after one day of skiing those people end up in my shop, and they find out that they got the wrong size or liner or ski boots.

How do you overcome those challenges?

We're the only one offering this unique package combination, and we have acquired recognition nationwide and worldwide over the years. If somebody goes to shop at Vail, Copper Mountain, Keystone or Steamboat, they pay $1500 for custom boots. Here we offer a better quality package for $600 cheaper than those guys. I also work as a technical advisor for Dalbello and ZipFit and I've designed my own custom foot beds for years.

How do you market yourself?

I've had articles in the newspaper educating the public on custom boot fitting.

I have TV ads here and ads in the newspaper. The best advertising is word of mouth. My customers go out and they sell our reputation and experience to everybody else.

Personally, what do you get out of your business?

We love what we do. It's so rewarding when you have people who come in here, they can barely walk in the shop. After getting their custom boots they go out skiing, they come back and hug you and say, "This is the best day of skiing in my life." From beginners to world cup skiers, we can help them. Any level of skier we can help. Any age, any physical handicap, we can help. I get a personal reward from helping handicapped skiers like those at the National Sports Center for the Disabled. Every time you do something for them it's a big smile and they always love what you do. It's great.

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