Anchorage snowboard shop and Freebord retailer zAK’s Boardroom was voted Transworld Business’ Best New Shop of the Year for 2011. Congrats guys!
John “Zak” Kaercher grew up skating and snowboarding in Anchorage, Alaska before heading off to New York City for school and an urban concrete oasis, where he packed in as many snowboard trips across the globe as possible, funding the dream with a job at New York Pipe Dreams shop.
During his time in New York, Zak received a degree in business finance and realized just how lacking his hometown’s skate and snow scene was. A driven character, Kaercher decided to do something about it and support his friends back in AK.
“Whenever he came back to Anchorage he was disappointed in the lack of shops that failed to supply high end merchandise,” says friend Will Bond Ingram. “The mall stores just weren’t cutting it. It was time to make a change here in Anchorage. Zak had the vision and the dream, and followed through.”
Kaercher made the move back to Anchorage and on November 22, 2008 opened zAKs Boardroom, a core skate and snow shop, and Phaze One Indoor Skate Park soon followed. Business took off and ignited the local scene, providing skaters with a hub and place to skate through the long Alaskan winter.
But then tragedy struck. In early June of 2010, Zak suffered a tragic accident when he fell towing behind a friend’s car, hit his head and died. Following the accident, Zak’s family and the shop’s staff rallied to keep his vision alive and the shop has flourished since Kaercher’s untimely passing at 29. Earlier this year, their brand and rep partners voted zAKs the TransWorld Business Best New Shop of the Year and we caught up with Ingram, who has taken the title of Research & Development at the store and park, about the trials and tribulations of the last several years.