Longtime Footloose Sports employee Matt Finnigan takes over the iconic Mammoth business
There aren’t too many ski shops that have survived 35 years in a town chock full of gear shops, but Command Performance Fastski Sports is one of them, and it’s about to change hands. Albeit gradually.
Matt Finnigan, who worked at Footloose Sports for 32 years, is taking over from current owners Robin and Emily Falkingham, and is going to be slowly easing the Falkinghams into semi-retirement.
“We’re not going to drop kick him into the holiday tourist crowd that quickly,” said Emily. “We’ll be here until Easter at least, on the holidays and weekends.”
Instead of “retirement,” Finnigan says of the Falkinghams’ eventual departure, “let’s call it an exit strategy.”
Emily and Robin really have no idea what they’ll do once they’re not running the ski shop. They’ve owned the shop since they moved to Mammoth in the infamous winter of 1982, when their oldest son was an infant. That same year, Dave McCoy stopped in to wish them luck in their new endeavor.
“He said, ‘Welcome to Mammoth,’” recalls Robin. “If you run your business the right way, there’s enough business in town for everybody,” said McCoy. “And if you ever have a problem with anything to do with the mountain, my door is always open.”
Finnigan said there were probably at least 20 ski shops in town when the Falkinghams opened Fastski. “There’s been a lot of attrition in ski shops over the last two decades. I remember when I moved to town, there were ski shops on every corner and next door to each other.”
Emily Falkingham said Finnigan was a natural choice to take over their business. “It was really important to make sure that we had… somebody that’s made a commitment to the community,” added Robin.
“We’ve survived in the ski industry,” through booms and busts, droughts and deluges, said Finnigan. “Command Performance survived, Footloose survived, so the survivors all know each other.”
Finnigan moved to Mammoth in the way most eventual lifers wind up here—just for a season. While studying sociology in his hometown of Portland, Oregon, Finnigan decided to spend a summer in Alaska at a fishing camp. He made friends with Craig Albright, then-director of Mammoth’s ski school, and Albright invited him to Mammoth. “I was just taking a term off school,” he said, laughing. Thirty-some years later, “I still have to go back and finish. Mom and Dad are still waiting.”
They’ll probably have to wait a little longer. It was clear from the hour that The Sheet spent inside the shop at the Minaret Mall that Finnigan bought into a business with a loyal customer base. Everyone walking into the shop was met with exclamations and hugs, asked about the snow conditions, or how their winter in New Zealand went. Mammoth Lakes Tourism’s Michael Vanderhurst stopped in to check out locker bags and catch up.