ZJ Boarding House

Best Snowboard Shop, June 2005

As snowboarding has grown increasingly sophisticated, with more styles of riding and riders than ever (they outnumber skiers now), board shops have matured in kind. Smitten Snowboarding and Streetwear for Women, which opened last fall in Pasadena, gets big ups for its range of female-specific gear in a testosterone-free environment, and Val Surf in Valley Village sets itself apart with its great selection and customer service. Still, we haven’t found any place better than ZJ Boarding House, whose inventory is almost as impressive as its highly trained staff. “We’re nerds over here about snowboarding stuff,” says buyer Jason Bendewish, who might spend as many as six hours helping customers achieve the optimal fit. Every summer and fall the shop—also a favorite for its skate- and surfboard selections—holds clinics, where vendors teach employees about their new products, and it follows up with store-led staff clinics throughout the year. Then in February, employees take off to Mammoth to demo boards for the coming year so that when they’re selling them, they can speak from personal knowledge. As for tuning, ZJ is one of the only shops in town to have a stone grinder—the same equipment manufacturers use to finish the riding surface of their boards—and most of the store’s technicians have at least four years’ experience. But if it is simply superfly pants you want, ZJ, which is expanding into the building next door, has those, too.