27. ZANDY WHEELER & KAREN GEORGE: SKIRACK’S PARENTS
For the last 51 years, Skirack has helped shape the landscape of outdoor recreation in Vermont. It has been named Snowsports Retailer of the Year and Nordic Retailer of the Year by Ski Industries of America, one of the 20 Best Running Shops in America by Gear Patrol and has repeatedly made the list of America’s Best Bike Shops compiled by the National Bike Dealer’s Association. It has put on clinics on everything from bike maintenance to running technique with top pros. And each year it fits and outfits kids from the King Street Center with running shoes free of charge so they can participate in the Junior Milers program.
Though it now has close to 100 employees and 22,000 sq. feet of retail space, Skirack is still very much a family-run business, fulfilling the vision that Zandy Wheeler, his brother John, Spike Clayton and Zandy’s wife Karen George nourished for many years. Zandy’s brother John, who died in 1988 of a rare blood disease, was the force behind the Burlington Triathlon. Spike Clayton, who died last year, helped make the shop a go-to for Nordic skiing. And Zandy and Karen’s son John-George has been managing Burlington’s Patagonia store (the family also own Trailwear in Waterbury).
The shop continues to be the place athletes go for the right fit for a bike, skis or running shoes. ““What Skirack always did so well was hire experts who would help educate you. They didn’t just want to sell you something, they wanted to sell you the right something, something that would make you better, or faster or would let you have more fun in a sport” Burlington bike advocate Phil Hammerslough told Vermont Sports in 2019.