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Vermont-based winter clothing rental business is taking off

by Taylor Mason on Dec. 11, 2019, 12:06 p.m.

STOWE, VT — Written by: Liz Strzepa

It's no secret that shredding the slopes isn't cheap, and neither are the clothes you need to do it.

"You could be talking about (spending) $800, $1,000 and up," said Stowe native Forrest Shinners.

He said people could spend that amount of money on such items as jackets, snow pants, boots, gloves and goggles.

But what if you could rent all of that for a fraction of the cost?

It's an idea Shinners had when he was lending outfits to his friends from New York City to wear on ski trips.

"I had somebody say, 'Oh, wow! It's like Rent the Runway for the mountains. This is a service. You should charge for it,'" said Shinners.

That's how Kit Lender was born.

"The Airbnbs, the Rent the Runways, these (businesses) kind of created a new market for people that liked experiences and renting stuff and realizing that's something they would go to. But in the ski market, it wasn't there yet," he said.

Through Kit Lender, people can rent all of the ski trip essentials, including high-end brand items from Patagonia, The North Face and Sorel, for a daily fee.

"We start at about $30 a day up to about $45 a day," said Shinners.

The kits are shipped wherever the customer wants, anywhere in the U.S.

Pickup is handled by FedEx.

"(FedEx will) come to the hotel or you can drop it off at FedEx. It's all prepaid and ships back to us," said Shinners.

The Stowe-based business has been so successful over the past five years that it has recently moved into a larger warehouse space.

After being recently featured on a nationally televised show, Shinners said rentals are booking up.

"I mean, it's surreal. When you're talking about hundreds of percent growth year after year, it's just, it's wild," he said.