Keep The Stoke Alive

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If It Ain’t Broke

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Meet the Needle & Shred crew and their philosophy of mending

Tucked away on a side street in Victor, Idaho, is a fully-tuned snowboard gear repair shop called Needle & Shred. It’s run by a motley crew of riders who are also DJs, sewists, skaters, artists, dancers, would-be surgeons, grandma’s favorites, and–most importantly–hardworking friends who know how to have a good time. There’s also one son of a cobbler.

If you take a bad fall the guys can (probably) stitch you right back up.

I swing open the door to Needle & Shred, and it feels like I have stepped directly into Santa’s Workshop, except it’s full of snowboarders instead of elves. The walls are paneled with perforated cardboard adorned with hundreds of multicolored spools of thread. Bright blue, yellow, and red zippers hang from hooks like county fair prize ribbons. Skateboards are stacked thoughtfully on racks, and rock climbing hangboards are fastened onto wooden beams pressed with stickers.

It’s hard for me to believe that Needle & Shred once fit inside Fitzgerald’s Bicycles. The HQ now contains a mini skate ramp for brain and leg stretches, many tables full of hefty machinery, and storage shelves stacked to the ceiling with patterned fabric. The tempered ping of staple guns punctuates the air, and I notice the constant soft background hum of sewing machines threading over a thousand stitches a minute. Skateboard wheels plunk and screech around the floor, soft rock plays over the speakers, and two co-workers are discussing the Japanese aesthetic philosophy of wabi-sabi while maneuvering jackets and hats beneath thumping needles. The organized chaos feels perfect.

The door closes behind me, and I sheepishly hold a Patagonia coat with a jacked-up zipper that belongs to my housemate. Jeremy Holmstead, co-founder of Needle & Shred, greets me and takes the well-loved orange ball out of my hands. He tells me with a smile that he can look at the damage while we talk shop. He explains that the zipper is a 4.5, a size that Patagonia is known for using. Tim Eberly, the other co-founder, brings over a small box of the same size zippers. The two pass the jacket back and forth, fiddling with the zipper, discussing the coil sizes and how stubborn this particular zipper can be. Only after the problem has been dissected and diagnosed do we finally dive into Needle & Shred’s origin story.

Needle & Shred is also a full snowboard demo shop.

Tim picked up his craftsmanship skills from his family: his dad was a cobbler (a shoe repairman), and his grandma created costumes for the Nutcracker Ballet in Denver for 40 years. He recalls that enormous pants–think JNCO Jeans–got super popular in the nineties when he was still in high school, and his mom taught him how to make them himself. He bought his own billowing yards of denim and constructed what could only loosely be described as pants at home with his mom’s sewing machine. But he looked damn cool, he saved a ton of money, and he was hooked (on sewing, not giant clothing).

Jeremy honed his sewing skills while recovering from a ski injury. His grandma gave him a sewing machine, and he started learning how to make things. “I loved manipulating fabric to make 3D objects you could use,” he tells me. “You would be surprised what you can learn from YouTube.” The knowledge he gained from online tutorials, reading, and hands-on experience has paid off. Needle & Shred has been busy non-stop since the day they opened. That was over three years ago. “The second we started, we took off running,” Tim shares. “It was so obvious how necessary a business like this was to a community.”

Jeremy Holmstead in his happy place.

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Needle & Shred’s wide range of services includes warranty fulfillment for brands like Stio, Flylow, Trew, and Sea to Summit; walk-in repairs; snowboard demos; and clothing manufacturing for Wilderness Trail Ridge Products, which is one of their biggest clients. “We do all their llama-packing products: panniers, gaiters, first aid kits—we say yes to pretty much anything. I love simplifying the manufacturing process for our clients’ products and making them cost-effective,” says Jeremy. “But this,” Tim yanks the Patagonia zipper up and down, “is our bread and butter.” He chuckles. “Goddamn zippers.”

Some customers ship items from across the country, others live right next door and leave items in the dropbox outside. “Teton Valley needed it,” Tim says. “Fixing gear is becoming more trendy, which is great. We all repair our shit, and it’s awesome.” The biggest next step for Needle & Shred? “We’re really excited about the idea of making our own products soon,” Jeremy says quietly through a smile, a flicker of excitement in his eyes.

Everyone in the shop takes time to show me a few things. We discuss the intricacies of materials, the names of certain stitches, and what’s different about each machine. I am in awe of their craftsmanship, but Jeremy assures me I could do this too. I almost believe him because there’s something contagious about the crew’s genuine passion for what they do. “Fixing your own stuff is pretty liberating, honestly,” Tim says. He tugs at my friend’s jacket again. “Especially when you have a broken zipper for 10 months.” He effortlessly pulls the small metal tab of the newly repaired zipper up to the top of the coat. “And then you’re like: ‘Oh hell yeah!’”

Drop by the shop this winter and ponder some philosophy, have a skate session, and get some gear repaired. But don’t be too surprised to see a “Gone Boarding” sign in the window on a powder day. Needle & Shred still revolves around good friends, hearty laughter, and getting out to the mountain or the skatepark to shred as much as possible. They hope you understand, and they’ll see you soon.

– TF

As a writer and photographer, Taylor is drawn to where the stories are. She continues to bound between mountains and coastlines, searching for something more, or nothing at all.

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