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Boot fitters going the way of the dinosaurs? - Page 2

post #31 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kosackthrower View Post

That sounds like a super-inexpensive machine (I still do not have a great font for sarcasm). I wonder how long it would take to get a return on the investment?

I know a shop owner that made his own vacuum machine using a plastic bag and an old shop-vac.  Works perfectly.

post #32 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

Same goes for mounting bindings and intuition liners if we want to stay skiing related.  Did I mention online sales?  Computers have definitely put a lot of people out of work.

See your point, but not sure it's the same one the OP or others are making. Computers do put people out of work, but only for some applications where tasks can be distilled into a chip friendly algorithm, like robots on an assembly line, or electronically controlled skyscraper functions. Not for all. And definitely not for jobs that require creative problem solving. Deep Blue may be able to beat a grand master, but that's brute force against a specific game that lends itself to a straightforward algorithm. According to the AI guys I know, let's not hold our breaths waiting for that to mean computers can solve simple problems like identifying complex shapes or patterns that a chimp handles effortlessly.

 

And good luck just going out and skiing on the product of that 3-D printer that can scan our feet and make a boot. No tweaks, huh? Does anyone here think a scan of a human foot anticipates subjective issues like discomfort, or how much foot movement is desirable, or how a foot changes shape during the day, or previous health history that may make a particular area of the foot look normal but be prone to injury or pain? Or as any fitter will tell you, how will that scan take care of a change of mind, or the development of discomfort, after a week of skiing? If yes, get thee to MIT or Cal Tech, where the AI guys will definitely want to pick your brain. 

 

In sum, don't see a lot of examples of where computers have put end-stage personnel out of work, eg, people who sell, tweak, repair, adjust, whether tailors or fitters. Nor early stage personnel, eg, people who invent, design, engineer, or service the middle segment products, or their robots and 3-D printers. IMO fitters are part of those groups. So computers have already displaced ski boot factory workers, I'm sure. But boots aren't cars. Each boot has to fit an individual human foot just the way the human wants. By contrast, each human butt has to accept the same car seat. It's a big deal thing when the designers deign to put in electronic driver side seat controls. If we expect more, we're being unrealistic about a "mass produced" object. Do you expect more from a boot? 

 

That's why it's called the Service Sector, yes? 

post #33 of 43

I read 'Who moved my cheese?"

 

Loved it and adopted it...

post #34 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by dwoof2 View Post

I read 'Who moved my cheese?"

 

Loved it and adopted it...

 

It's the only way to stay in cheese.

post #35 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Sears didn't read "Who Moved My Cheese".  Computers created more jobs than they got rid of.  I stated early, fitters might do their craft differently, but they will still be doing their craft.

 

Most things aren't hard to do.  You just have to know how or be willing to.  I know how to roof.  Hope I'm never in a position to have to do it again.  I know plumbing - hate it.  I suck at carpentry - love it and do it all the time around the house.  So much that sometimes I do the same project three times or the I believe it won't fall down...again rolleyes.gifth_dunno-1[1].gif

 

Those trades people in Lowes and HD are there because of the economy and the housing bubble busting.  A while back, everytime I talked to someone working in HD, they were a laid off software engineer.  Prior to that you couldn't find enough Stone Mason's and carpenters because the trades were going to the easier and better paying jobs in computers.  Either way, everyone ends up in HD eventually either because they can't find a trades person, they're a laid off trades person working there, or they can't afford to pay someone else to do the work.


And just what drives those building booms and economic crashes?  Lately it has been when tens of thousands of people in major metroplexes lose their middle management and data entry jobs to consolidation and outsourcing.  When better management systems and outsourcing enable big firms to handle the same workload with 50% of the former headcount that really kills the housing industry doesn't it?  All the while, the private sector is still doing fine at the top though, actually doing much better looking at the markets and CEO pay.

 

Yes, there will still need boot fitters and tweaking in spite of new, more thorough customization and fabrication processes.  The difference is that it will likely be pimple faced high school kids following in screen instructions and pushing  buttons.

 

Shopping at brick and mortar is also changing rapidly.  In the future you won't even pay a clerk or most things, just put the items in your cart and scan them with your phone to pay for them.  Not sure about theft and security, but there is a great deal of investment in to POS systems based on the above procedures in the works.  Buying in the store will be getting more and more like buying online instead of the other way around..

 

FWIW, I worked as a cabinet maker for several years out of college, also did time in kitchen remodeling, newspaper collating, and a few other regular guy gigs before going to retail, retail management,  then grad school and currently data analysis.  I've seen some of just about everything.

post #36 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post


And just what drives those building booms and economic crashes?  Lately it has been when tens of thousands of people in major metroplexes lose their middle management and data entry jobs to consolidation and outsourcing.  When better management systems and outsourcing enable big firms to handle the same workload with 50% of the former headcount that really kills the housing industry doesn't it?  All the while, the private sector is still doing fine at the top though, actually doing much better looking at the markets and CEO pay.

India is not a computer. You stated computers caused the loss of jobs. I say they created more and gave us career fields we ne'er dreamed of.

Consolidation and outsourcing isn't a result of computers. It is a result of greed, lower labor rates in other countries and the availability of the Internet.

We should get get back to this thread now.
post #37 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post


India is not a computer. You stated computers caused the loss of jobs. I say they created more and gave us career fields we ne'er dreamed of.

Consolidation and outsourcing isn't a result of computers. It is a result of greed, lower labor rates in other countries and the availability of the Internet.

We should get get back to this thread now.


It would seem so on the surface.  However, Iit's simple dynamics, as computing power and system capabilities increases the number of people entering data and operating computer terminals decreases.  Better computers require fewer operators.  Then the remaining operators get outsourced to lower cost regions (India) thanks to better networking capabilities.  I've seen it at several different companies across multiple industries, and there is no end in sight.

 

Back to the thread.

 

 

More advanced expert systems will reduce demand for bootfitters. Lower, unskilled will be able to push buttons and follow prompts to be adequate in most situations.   Maybe not tomorrow, but definitely within the next decade or two. 

 

There are already people on these forums asking about this aren't there?
 

How may people in ski shops have already had  somebody ask about doing this as a DIY foodbed?  Might suck, but it has still cut in to a few sales already.

 

post #38 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

 

More advanced expert systems will reduce demand for bootfitters. Lower, unskilled will be able to push buttons and follow prompts to be adequate in most situations.   Maybe not tomorrow, but definitely within the next decade or two. 

 

There are already people on these forums asking about this aren't there?
 

How may people in ski shops have already had  somebody ask about doing this as a DIY foodbed?  Might suck, but it has still cut in to a few sales already.

 

Yes, people try them. Dr. Sholls inserts not work for me  Many ask about them but quickly find that off the shelf inserts, while work for some still will not replace a fitter. In fact most shops offer Superfeet or some other trim to fit as an alternative to either the useless inserts that some with the boot or a full on custom bed. There will always be a mass market alternate to many specialists, in every industry, but you are talking to the lunatic fringe here who still demand the specialist. 

post #39 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post
Same goes for mounting bindings and intuition liners if we want to stay skiing related.

Mounting bindings?  I've been mounting my own bindings for 25 years.  Ain't rocket science.

post #40 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by L&AirC View Post

Remember when they said computers would put everyone out of work.

 “There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.”   Ken Olson, president, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp. 1977

 

“This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.”   Western Union memo believed from 1878

 

Ken Olson and many others proved we don't know what we don't know, and what we don't know anything with certainty when thinking about the future.

 

Technology is already giving us affordable mass produced "custom" or "semi-custom"  products with many personal goods (clothing, ski boots, etc.).  Things will likely get better and cheaper for the masses over time.  Still, there will always be a custom manufacturer out there to make money from those who cannot be fit with anything but a custom product.  I wonder why there is currently no "custom" ski jacket/pants/suit shop in every ski area with a centralized manufacturing site?  Perhaps some of us should start one, making sure custom clothiers with modern 3D technology  don't end up "...going the way of the dinosaurs".

post #41 of 43

Things that can be achieved are not always done if they don't have the potential to be scaled to the point that it's worth the investment.  There's your answer.

post #42 of 43

I am having a memory of some fairly major clothing chain trying to introduce a new fitting process.  It was supposed to be some booth that the customer could step inside to be virtually measured from head to toe.  Then it would spit out the closest size for shirts, pants, etc that the store sells.  It sounded like a neat idea at the time, but I haven't seen or heard about it actually happening anywhere.  I guess some things just look and sound better at the concept stage than they work out to be IRL.

post #43 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by crgildart View Post

I am having a memory of some fairly major clothing chain trying to introduce a new fitting process.  It was supposed to be some booth that the customer could step inside to be virtually measured from head to toe.  Then it would spit out the closest size for shirts, pants, etc that the store sells.  It sounded like a neat idea at the time, but I haven't seen or heard about it actually happening anywhere.  I guess some things just look and sound better at the concept stage than they work out to be IRL.

 

I think brings two other things out that will seal in boot fitters.  People like to chat and be served.  For some it is even a social event.  Guys don't tend to make clothes shopping  a social event (I don't care for it.  Wife dragged me to the outlet today mad.gif).  My wife and daughters all seem to make an event out of it and will hit a couple malls and plenty of stores.  Sometime they get very few things though they spent an entire day trying on clothesyahoo.gif.  When my favorite ski shop opens each August, I stop by, walk in and breathe in deep; "Ahhh. Ptex."  Say hi to everyone I haven't seen for a while and start dreaming about getting more toys drool.gif.  Sometimes I buy from them just to make sure they are always there.  I might be able to get a better deal somewhere else, but they have been so nice and helpful to me, that this past season I spent a bit of money there partly out of guilt from everything they gave me in discounts and freebees.

 

Years ago all gas stations had attendants that not only filled your tank, but checked your oil and washed your windshield.  When I was stationed in Okinawa (80's and 90's), out in town, they would do all that and stop traffic for you so you could pull out. They even politely bowed as you drove away.  Now you have to actively hunt down a gas station that isn't self service.  I don't think it is because it is better for the customer or because the customer has a better experience.  It is because profits could go up.  With self serve one person can run ten pumps but with full service, you would need two or three to do the same.  Cafeterias are less expensive than diners and buffets are less expensive than off the menu.  When you move the labor from the seller to the buyer, the price should go down. 

 

With gas stations and restaurants, the market is large enough that you could probably open a place that only served one color car and still do OK.  I can go to the place that drops the price for cash but then I have to 1) have cash and 2) walk all the way inside to pay and then back to get my change; not happening.

 

When I go to the boot fitter, I drive almost three hours (counting a pit stop) each way.  Not sure I would do that to stick my foot in a machine and I have to mash a bunch of buttons.  It is a full day event for me and six hours on the road, gas money, starbucks and an eatery or two, I'm easily in over $100 just traveling.  When I get there, I want service.  I'm not swiping my card on some machine and then hoping I answer everything correctly to get it perfect.  I don't even like self checkout in the grocery store.  If I'm going to a brick and mortar, it is because they can give me what no machine/computer can; a greeting with a smile; even if they don't mean it.  Even the cashier today in the jeans shop (have you seen these frickin' prices!!) broke out the calculator to see which discount saved me more money.

 

I'll pay an extra 10 cents a gal for gas because it is more convenient to me and saves me time.  When I buy jeans, I try them on because I need to feel them on me; can I move around, do they give me wedgie (or worse eek.gif).  Even if a body scanner sized me up, I would still try them on before I bought them.  I've even been told to not buy jeans because my wife didn't like the way my butt looked in them.  Whatever.  Certain things will never be replaced by a machine.

 

Ken

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