Not Just a Shop! Interview with Rhythm Co-Owner Matt Hampton.

This year in Niseko, Rhythm will celebrate its biggest achievement to date. Rhythm Base, its premier flagship store, is set to open this December. The shop is a culmination of 14 years-experience operating in Japan, a dream come true for co-owner and Matt Hampton…

rhythm shop rider pow
Rider: Matt Hampton. Photo by Glen Claydon

Matt, the opening of this new shop represents something pretty special for the team at Rhythm…
Matt Hampton: It definitely does. This is a long time in the making. Our first store was only 25m2, Rhythm Base will be more than 1,200m2! Our success is very much a team effort, we have the best people on the planet working for us. We’re also extremely privileged to be working with a local Japanese family who have leased us the land and worked with us to create a custom-built store, designed by Niseko’s most prominent architect, Koichiro Ishiguro

I’ve heard you describe it before as ‘not just a ski shop’…
Matt: That’s definitely true. Rhythm Base is more of a hub than a ski shop. An experience. Inside the store will be a café, bar and an event space where we’ll showcase local art, films and support events like the Niseko Shoot Out. Good times ahead.

Matt Hampton with daughter, Ashleigh.

Where did the idea for this come from?
Matt: At all the best ski resorts I’ve ever travelled to, the local ski shop is always a central meeting place, somewhere to get local intel on the best place to ride, eat, party and more. We’re bringing this to Niseko on a bigger scale than we have before.

Atmosphere has always been really important to Rhythm, hasn’t it?
Matt: Definitely. We always try to create a really good, fun vibe. We do this by having amazing staff who love spending time in the mountains. They pass this energy on to our customers. Our mission is to connect people with perfectly suited products and services, so they can live their epic mountain experience.

Is it easier or harder to do this in a bigger store?
Matt: I would say easier. Especially having the coffee shop and bar under the same roof. People can start their day with a coffee and a snack, go riding, then finish with a beer or cocktail. Who wouldn’t be stoked with that!

In terms of equipment, will there be anything new on offer?
Matt: We always have the best, latest gear thanks to our amazing buyers, but in Base there will be loads more to choose from. Plus, our boot fitting partners, Boot Solutions will be on site, along with Rhythm Tunes Workshop. Thom, our workshop manager, has invested in new tuning machines so everything is state of the art.

rhythm base shop
Rendered image of front counter.

What about rental operations, anything new there?
Matt: We’ve put a lot of money into updating our check-in systems. The new shop is all about flow, making sure the rental process is as quick and seamless as possible. Rental is the future.

And another thing there is a lot of buzz about is the carpark!
Matt: Totally! Room for 40 cars, as long as we can keep up with the snow clearing.

rhythm base shop
Rendered image of upstairs.

It’s definitely a one-stop-shop…
Matt: That’s our aim. We’ll also have an Explore Niseko counter so guests can book their off-snow experiences, organise lessons, cultural tours, pretty much anything they need.

Anything else we need to know about Rhythm Base?
Matt: Basically, we have put a huge amount of time and effort into designing and creating a space we know is going to be epic. Everyone at Rhythm is super excited about this winter and we can’t wait to welcome as many humans as possible through the doors.

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