There’s an old saying that when you own your own business, you only have to work half of a day. You get the choice to work either the first twelve hours or the second twelve.
Often, Dick Forrest chooses both.
Born and raised in Efland, Forrest has run C&R Ski Outdoor since 1978 at Boone Village.
In addition to the location in Hillsborough, C&R has another store at Elon that sells snowboards, wakeboards, stand up paddles, hiking boots, jackets, board shorts, helmets and countless other items one may need for a skiing or hiking trip.
Over his 40 years of running a sports gear business, Forrest has watched UNC, N.C. State and Duke win 11 men’s national basketball championships. He’s officially licensed to create T-shirts that commemorate each occasion. Plus, Forrest is a silent partner with a group that designs and sells N.C. State merchandise.
He also runs a Christmas tree lot in Hillsborough, which is presided over every winter by his brother, David.
What “C&R Ski Outdoor” is now, is so far from what “C&R Screen Printing’ started as in 1978.
After graduating from Alamance Community College, Forrest married his wife Betsy shortly before launching his own business. Forrest and Russell Walker, his friend from Orange High School, came up with the name “C&R Screen Printing” because Walker’s birth name is “Clyde” and Forrest’s is “Richard.” When Forrest launched the business at Daniel Boone Village, he sold mainly silk screened T-shirts. They designed many local little league baseball team’s uniforms, and also sold batting gloves for the local baseball nut that just had to have the Seattle Mariners’ cap from 1983 after they finished 60-102 (even with Williamston-native Gaylord Perry hurling knuckleballs for them).
“We did a little bit of everything,” said Forrest.
A trip to Boone with his sister’s French class from Stanford Junior High School in 1982 taught Forrest that C&R could be something much more. Forrest joined the group on a bus trip to Appalachian Mountain Ski Resort. After a brief tutorial from the French/ Swiss Ski instructors, he was soon skiing the experts trails.
“It was a Friday night,” said Forrest. “And it was cold. We just fell in love with skiing.”
“Dick took to skiing very quickly,” said Betty Hamlin from her home in Caldwell.
In 1992, the business became known as C&R Sports Wear. Forrest purchased ski rentals from a friend in Burlington that was going out of business. In order to maintain a ski rental business, Forrest had to become certified to work on equipment for safety standards. That required extra purchases from ski companies, which helped C&R grow into the business it has become.
“We had to take out loans,” said Forrest. “It was kind of a big investment, but things have worked out.”
To help make ends meet, Forrest started organizing ski trips, first to Winterplace, West Virginia, which continues to this day. In January, Forrest anchors weekly bus journeys where 20- 40 people attend on a daylong getaway. He co-owns a ski lodge in Snowshoe, West Virginia, which is like a second home that demands attention year-round. The lodge is rented to large groups of 20 people or more throughout the year. During the summer, Snowshoe provides a welcome escape from the relentless Hillsborough heat. On Monday afternoon, it was 92 degrees outside of Forrest’s office. In Snowshoe, it was 65.
“That’s why I enjoy going up there,” said Forrest. “One year, we went up there for the 4th of July. In the village, they showed movies up in the outdoor courtyard.. We were up there wearing jackets and gathering around a fire. The wind was blowing so hard and people were wearing toboggans. It was cold, man. I heard it was 92 degrees here in Hillsborough.”
In the ‘90s, the trips grew to locations like Quebec, Canada, Chamonix, France and Innsbrouk,Austria. There were journeys to Vail, Colorado and Utah. Even now, Forrest is making preparations for day bus trips to Wintergreen for next January, complete with snowboard rentals and ski lessons.
In 2010, when the Daniel Boone Village went under contract, Forrest wanted an insurance policy for a second location in case his longtime location was taken over, which didn’t happen. Forrest opened a second store in the town of Elon in 2010 on property he already owned.
“I wasn’t quite ready to retire yet,” said Forrest. “We could find another location in Hillsborough, but if all else fails we have Elon.”
The only downside to expansion was it meant the exotic trips out west and abroad would have to cease.
“We didn’t have enough staff to do it,” said Forrest. “They cut down on the trips out west, which is kind of bad.”
Forrest still works 12 hours a day, and he doesn’t envision stopping anytime soon. So does Forrest still work so hard because he enjoys it or because he can’t envision doing anything else?
“I’m not sure,” he says with a smile. “Some parts you enjoy and some you don’t. I still don’t like the paperwork.”