The Gart Companies – History

With a unique ability to identify a need, create demand and then deliver, Nathan Gart started his fishing and outdoor gear shop in 1928.  With help from his brothers, and then his sons, Jerry and Mickey, Papa Gart’s original idea grew into the Gart Bros. Sporting Goods Company.  The firm grew from the original ‘main store’, located in downtown Denver, to a regional chain of over 150 stores by the time the family left the firm in 1992.

The Gart stores were a skiing and sports institution in the Rocky Mountain Region, with such identifying institutions as the SNIAGRAB (Bargains spelled backwards) Ski Sale, and the world-famous Sportscastle store, located on Broadway in downtown Denver.  The Sportscastle featured over 100,000 square feet of sporting goods.  The store featured seven levels of goods, sold by sales people who participated in the sports they sold.  Jerry Gart opened the store in 1971.  It was the first specialty super store of any kind, featuring a tennis court on the roof, a full service travel agency, a ski machine and golf driving range.

The third Gart generation has a new direction – still fueled by the Gart ambition and talent.  Following the sale of the business in 1992, Ken, Tom and John Gart founded The Gart Companies.  Initially, The Gart Companies had two divisions; Gart Properties, a commercial real estate firm, and Specialty Sports Ventures.


In 1993, the family still had the burning desire to continue in the retail ski business.  This time, they wanted to operate a collection of specialty shops, which would provide the highest level of service available in the marketplace.  They initially acquired a handful of ski shops in Colorado.  In 1995 the Garts established a joint venture with Vail Resorts, known as Specialty Sports Venture.  By 2010, with over 150 specialty ski, cycling, golf and fly fishing stores in Colorado, Utah and Northern California, the family sold their interest in SSV to Vail Resorts.  www.ssv.net

At the same time, the company expanded its estate portfolio, becoming what today is a leading commercial real estate firm with a primary emphasis on retail centers.

The Gart Companies today is comprised of two primary divisions:  Gart Properties, and Gart Capital Partners, a private equity business focusing on specialty retail.  Current holdings under the Gart Capital umbrella include, Swoozies, GolfTec, and Powderhorn Ski Resort.

While today’s Gart Companies range from specialty retailing to real estate development, the Gart touch remains:  the ability to identify opportunities, add value, and commit to the hard work and attention to detail it takes to bring every venture to a successful outcome.