Most people know Cody Townsend as a professional skier — the one from that insane “Line of the Year” video that went viral last year. You have to ski a lot to get as good as Townsend, a lifelong devotee of the sport, which led him to his second career. In 2010, Townsend and two friends founded Arcade Belt Co., a purveyor of performance gear built for everyday wear.
“They basically hadn’t ever been redesigned,” says Townsend. “You had action-sports athletes wearing belts that felt cheap, or seemed like something a Boy Scout would wear.”
Townsend and his co-founders, Tristan Queen and David Bronkie, set out to develop a well-made belt that offered the necessary stiffness and rigidity to tolerate the abuse of action-sports athletes, but was also comfortable enough to be worn daily by anyone. Within seven weeks, they sold out of their initial 500 pieces.
“We went, ‘Woah, this could really be a business.'”
While the company continues to grow, Townsend has no intention of offering other products right now or leaving his native California any time soon. Surrounded by friends and family, as well as a crop of local action sports athletes to partner with, Arcade’s base will remain on the West Coast. For Townsend, it’s all about finding inspiration in the place you live.
“Tahoe speaks to who I am and what we represent,” he says. “There’s so much local talent here to work with, and honestly I can’t be locked up in a city.” But crossover appeal is a big part of the evolution Townsend sees for the future. Arcade offers a piece of the counterculture of action sports to anyone interested in a stylish, well-crafted product. Athletes may be the ones really putting the belts to the test from a functional standpoint, but Arcade’s product offers a bit of that lifestyle to anyone who simply needs to hold up their pants.
“We definitely started with a sports-centric product, but we’ve always known this was bigger than sports,” Townsend explains. “It’s really for anyone who wants something better than boring, under-designed products.”
Arcade Belt Co. plans to introduce its product into 400 stores. “The Sawyer” style belt, above, is made of leather and wool, and retails for $32. | Courtesy Arcade Belt Co.
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