we are customer satisfaction specialists.
chicago’s original boardshop established 1982
Windward is Chicago’s original boardshop founded in 1982 located in Chicago’s lakeview neighborhood. We stock a wide selection of snowboarding, skateboarding, longboarding, stand up paddle, swimwear, footwear, apparel and accessories and combine that with a team of knowledgeable gear specialists that will make sure you find the right gear for your unique adventures. Our longstanding experience in the industry and leading edge approach to customer service will change the way you think about a boardshop. Read on below to find the details on the history of windward, our 2010 remodel and new owners, the mission we set out to accomplish and the folks that keep Chicago’s original boardshop going.
a brief history of windward
chicago’s original boardshop established 1982
In 1982, original founder Lester Zalewski, an avid sailboarder and instructor, quit college, sold his van and took out a loan to open Windward Sports. His goal was to grow the Chicago windsurfing community through his sailboarding instructor experience and provide customers with an unsurpassed level of first hand product knowledge and service. Along with fellow instructor, Jackie Butzen, Windward blew up over the years eventually breaking beyond the windsurf scene into a full service action sport specialty shop supplying the Chicagoland area with snowboards, skateboards and inline skate gear.
Eventually, Lester sold the majority of the operating control to Jackie who continued to run the business until 2010. In 2010, three local chicago riders and boardsport enthusiasts purchased the business from Jackie.
After a complete re-invention, re-brand and re-model, Windward Sports was re-born as Windward Boardshop. In March 2011, Windward expanded their offering with a full feature online shop and continues to provide an unmatched level of customer service with first hand product knowledge that resonates the original values and spirit of the original shop from over thirty years past.
re-model . re-brand . re-market
Two weeks of thai and around the clock hustle produce outstanding results. We managed to move our entire stock in the basement for an accelerated two week re-model that involved taking down walls, creating new rooms, installing new lights and fixtures, a new paint job, new hardwood floors and a full migration from a paper to POS inventory system. Wheew!
We didn’t stop there. Along with the re-model also came a complete re-branding including the change from Windward Sports to Windward Boardshop and a complete brand identity overhaul. A number of new brands have been introduced and our product line continues to expand. We are very pleased with what the shop transformed into within just a short period of time and strive to make improvements on a daily basis to improve our customers experience in-store, online and anywhere else the Windward reach extends.
Our mission is to build a community and transform the snow, skate, surf-sup retail industry by revolutionizing the standard of customer service, retail innovation, and unmatched sharing of knowledge of the products we believe in. Outstanding customer service and keeping focused on our values listed below guide us along this adventure.
inspire and enrich
We instill confidence within our customers to achieve the un-imaginable by providing them with knowledge and solutions that help get them where they want to be.
We go beyond just good enough and continually strive to take the customer experience, project or task to a new level of greatness.
We live our sports and stay true the vibe and culture of the industry with every decision we make and everything we do.
We focus on operating at a level that exceeds the pace of our set goals and milestones while optimizing resources and processes along the way.
We choose to not take the convenient path and instead accept the challenge to make our customers and our own dreams a reality.
At Windward we realize how lucky we are to work at a place we enjoy so much. This has inspired to us to give back whenever possible. Throughout the year we work with many different organizations. They include our holiday food drive for the Lakeview food Pantry, donating product to raise money at charity auctions and many more. Giving back is part of who we are. Here are just a few organizations we’ve supported:
Get to know the people at windward boardshop that transform your experience into a comprehensive and extraordinary one. We are a small shop but pack a ton of knowledge and insight across the spectrum of our specialists.
Having a hill big enough to hit one jump or a rail was a great way to start out snowboarding. It really makes you appreciate it when you finally get to a real mountain with lifts and runs that last longer than 10 seconds. For over fifteen years snowboarding and skateboarding have been a large part of my life. While most of my professional career was spent in the finance world I always had a passion for these sports. It surreal to be a part of Windward after growing up coming to the store as a kid. Looking forward to what the next 30 years brings the shop.
Good ole’ Byrd hill, v-drop 50′ at best, is where I put down my first fresh tracks as a snowboarder at 12. It was then I was also introduced to photoshop and the world of digital media. Over the years I’ve continued to embrace my passion for boardsports, design and digital media development. After 5+ professional years in the publishing industry it was time to take on a new adventure here with Windward. I can’t wait to see what we’ve continue to create and how many people we can help along the way in the many years to come.
Getting my first “shop” job at the age of 16 gave me a close look at what Mom and Pop shop life was really about. It was the experiences at that first shop that made me realize the only thing I wanted to do when I grew up was to have a store of my own. The 15 years following that first job took me through many different sides of the skate and snow industry and ultimately ended up here at Windward, with an amazing crew. Supporting snow, skate and sup in the Midwest is what this is all about and I feel lucky every day to be able to say I absolutely love what I do.
Where did it hit you, that need to push the limits just a little farther? Was it cruising down your block on that very first skateboard? Or maybe it was your first bunny hill shred. I’m Cody, and over here at Windward we’re all about that! Here’s a little about me, so that when you stop in we won’t be strangers. I’ve been riding boards since I was 5, and I’ll never turn down fresh pineapple! Seems like that covers just about everything, so come on by and say ‘hi’.
When you feel the exhilarating rush as you step on a board for the first time, you know this is going to be fun. There’s that instant connection deep down, and you’re in this industry for life. After over a decade of working in skate and snowboarding, it’s become more of a lifestyle for me; inspiring my art and design, my fashion, and the community I feel lucky to be a part of. Come see me, we’ll talk shop and get you stoked to step on that board!
join our team
Have an immense amount of boardsport knowledge and need a creative outlet to help out board riders of any or all types? Looking to extend your customer satisfaction experience? We are not always hiring but we are always accepting applications for when we need to find the most passionate and motivated employees to join our community at Windward. Have good footage of you killin’ it on a snowboard, skateboard, longboard or sup? We want to hear from you.