As a young 20-something, I met Jan Peterson through his daughter, Andrea,” recalls JANS Chief Financial Officer Caron Keim Murray of her long personal and professional relationship with JANS founder Jan Peterson, who passed away in May 2016. “My favorite quote from Jan was, ‘Treat everyone walking through our doors as if they were invited to your home for dinner.’ "
When talking with JANS’ leadership team — Caron, along with President & Chief Executive Officer Russ Coburn and General Manager Jack Walzer — there’s an overarching theme that even as the world of commerce has changed drastically over the years, JANS’ core philosophy of sincere service by experts in mountain recreation has stayed the same.
Deep roots in Utah’s ski history
Long before Jan opened his eponymous ski shop in 1980, he was part of Utah’s tight-knit ski community. His father, Pete Peterson, invested in Alta Ski Area’s first chairlift in the 1930s and was an early ski patrol director there.
Jan’s childhood was spent skiing throughout the Wasatch Mountains and both he and his brother came up through the ranks of competitive ski racing. Jan then spent years coaching the next generation of skiers.
Along with playing hard in the mountains, Jan also learned about the business side of the ski industry at Pete’s Sport Shop in Salt Lake City, which was opened by his father in the late 1930s and is considered to be Utah’s first ski shop.
Jan eventually followed in his father’s footsteps, outfitting skiers in Park City.
“I met Jan in 1977 when I arrived to teach skiing at Park City Mountain. Jan Peterson was the manager of Wolfe’s Sporting Goods at the time,” Russ says. “He became my friend, mentor, [business and fundraising] partner and fly-fishing buddy soon after.”
Community at the core of commerce
Meanwhile, Jack started working at JANS during the fall of 1984. He started in sales, then moved to buyer and then eventually became the general manager.
“Many people don’t know that the first JANS Mountain Outfitters store was where the Starbucks is now on Park Avenue,” Jack says. “Construction began on the flagship store in 1987, and it opened the following year,” solidly anchoring the business at the iconic intersection of Park, Empire and Deer Valley avenues.
“Not long after I came to JANS as CFO in 1991, my mother started working at the Deer Valley shop,” recalls Caron of her family’s connections to JANS. “And my kids all worked at the store on Park Avenue.” In fact, the company’s entire leadership team has stories of multi-generational connections to JANS, both in their own families — before and after joining the C-suite — and other Park City families, such as the three generations of Snyders who overlapped at the flagship store.
Russ notes that Jan intended for JANS to be a platform for giving back to the community. To make his vision a reality, Jan started the annual JANS Winter Welcome fundraiser to support the Park City ski team and later, the Youth Sports Alliance, a nonprofit cofounded by Russ that helps Park City kids participate in sports programs on and off the mountain.
When the new JANS storefront opened in 1988, the JANS Winter Welcome fundraiser expanded. Long considered to be one of Park City’s oldest annual fundraising events, the JANS Winter Wel- come brings generous philanthropists and Olympic medalists together for a night of Champagne and a good-natured, but cutthroat live auction that raised over $800,000 for Youth Sports Alliance programs in 2023.
“JANS loves to give back to a town that has sup- ported the same causes that keep this community healthy and together,” Russ says.
While JANS may be most publicly synonymous with supporting youth sports, Caron says their commitment to getting people of all ages and skill levels in the outdoors is at the core of JANS’ ethos. “We want to make sure anyone who wants to try a sport has the equipment and the ability to do it,” she says. Caron has personally put this philoso- phy into practice by leading weekly road cycle and mountain bike rides for women. The various offer- ings reach riders of all levels, from absolute begin- ners to competitive athletes.
With 10 outlets now under the JANS umbrella — including White Pine Touring, Fishwest Fly Shop and the Rennstall world-class ski tuning facility — the JANS brand has come a long way from Jan Peter- son’s original storefront in size, but not in philosophy.
“We still treat the customers as you would a guest in your home,” Russ says. “Not a bit of that has changed over the years.”