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Snell Sports Chamonix 90th Anniversary

By Alessandra Sola

Photo by Snell Sports Archives

Snell Sports was born in the streets of Chamonix 90 years ago. Just like a love story, the history of the shop has been cultivated with care and attention by a family that has made the mountains its life for four generations.

Snell Sports Chamonix in una giornata di neve

Like all the best stories, that of the Snell shop in Chamonix was born out of love.
It was 1917 when Marthe Devouassoud, a brilliant young girl from the Arve valley, met Harold Snell, a young American with a war behind him that was difficult to forget. Love, however, is known to work miracles.
Back in America, 25-year-old Harold promises himself and Marthe to return. Back home, he works for some publishing houses, which will open the doors for him for a renowned Parisian publishing house. So, his word is kept and in 1927 Harold returns and marries his beloved at the foot of Mont Blanc. Just a year later, Donald, the couple’s only son, is born.
From 1928 Chamonix became a popular place for tourists, stars and sportsmen of international calibre, also thanks to the first Olympic Games.

Donald e Yvette_Snell Sports Chamonix

In the same years, the Snell family opens an antique shop enriched day by day not only with 17th-century furniture, but also with innovative and technical mountain equipment left there by some passer-by. Throughout Europe, word spreads that Armes de Savoies, the shop of the American antique dealer in Chamonix, is a real gold mine for mountain lovers. 


In 1934 the antique shop moves to Rue Vallot and then to Rue Paccard, one of the main streets of Chamonix. There, Snell Sports Goods is established. Over the years, also thanks to Donald’s involvement in the family business, the shop becomes much more than just a downtown store. It is a real hub for exchanging information about the mountains, where people from all over the world come to meet other enthusiasts. 

Today Olivier representing the third generation of Snell Sports and is passing the baton to Olivia, his daughter, and thus the fourth generation of the enduring family business. Snell Sports is preparing to blow out 90 candles on its birthday cake, strong in the same principles as at the beginning of the last century: a love for the mountains and for visitors, who know they can rely on one of the outdoor shops with the oldest tradition in the world.