Skip Beitzel

Owner, Hickory & Tweed, Armonk

It’s not too often that your first job becomes your career, but for Skip Beitzel, that’s exactly what happened. Beitzel first entered Hickory & Tweed, a family-owned ski and outdoor clothing shop in Armonk, as a salesperson when he was a Horace Greeley high-schooler. He loved working at the store because of the way the original owner, Jim Ross, treated customers and made shopping there an “experience” (long before that was the buzziest word in retail). Today, Beitzel carries on that tradition as Hickory & Tweed’s current owner (or “Keeper of the Karma,” as his business card reads)—and lives the store’s ski lifestyle as an avid downhiller who frequents the slopes in New York, Vermont, and Utah. 

But Beitzel’s own experience took him in several directions before returning him full circle to Armonk. After graduating from the University of Vermont and earning an MBA from Harvard, Beitzel headed to Madison Avenue. An internship at famed ad firm Young & Rubicam led to a job post-Harvard as an account manager, where he worked on several large accounts, including KFC, Oil of Olay, and Breyer’s Ice Cream. Beitzel spent six years at the agency, but, he says, “I knew it wasn’t what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

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As luck would have it, Ross, with whom Beitzel had remained friendly, decided to sell Hickory & Tweed after 25 years of running the store—and Beitzel was his first choice as successor. “Jimmy wanted to move to Colorado with his family,” Beitzel explains. “So, six months later, he was in Aspen and I was in Armonk, back at Hickory & Tweed.” Of his career 180, Beitzel says, “I saw I was going in a different direction from big corporate, and Hickory & Tweed was in my DNA. So for me, it feels fateful that I would take it over.” 

Since purchasing the store in 1985, Beitzel and his wife—a former executive for Donald Trump who switched her career to become the store’s merchandise buyer—have made many changes to the original shopping experience. While still focused on skiing, Hickory & Tweed has diversified over the years, adding counter-seasonal merchandise lines like cycling—which has remained one of the store’s top selling areas. “Our overhead occurs 12 months a year, not just during ski season,” notes Beitzel, a Mount Kisco resident. 

While he has no regrets about saying goodbye to his Mad Men days, Beitzel feels his background in marketing, advertising, and branding—plus the financial skills he picked up through his MBA—have definitely come in handy at Hickory & Tweed. “My job now is to maintain the brand, and uphold everything that Hickory & Tweed has stood for throughout all these decades,” he says.

Career 180 Tip

Have a clear sense and direction/vision/passion about where you are going. Also, if you’re married or have a significant other, make sure he or she is totally on-board.

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