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How many ski shops can a resort support?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I've been thinking lately about how many shops a mountain can support.  Does it vary by the type of guest that is attracted?  Or is it simple math based on the number of skier visits generated?  What about four season sustainability?  Seems like most ski shops I am familiar with switch to be bike shops in the summer.

 

For this discussion, I'm excluding the stores at the ski resorts themselves.

 

For example, there are 6 shops I can think of at Killington, and I'm probably forgetting at least one.  On the other hand there are only 3 shops in Stowe.  Presumably this means that there is more demand for these goods and services at Killington than at Stowe.  Is it as simple as that, or is there more to it?  Are there that many more skiers at Killington?  It seems like Stowe has at least as many restaurant seats as Killington...maybe I'm getting faked out (perhaps it's more restaurants, but fewer tables).

 

I'm raising these mountains as examples because I'm familiar with both.  I'm interested to hear the perspective of others on this topic.

post #2 of 15
I'd say it's about types of shop - the good one, the corporate one and the middle of the road for the average punter one. You could have lots of shops but if they're all corporate you could be left wanting.

Speaking if which how did that Epic Store at Frisco work out, anyone know? - the most soulless bloodsucking concept I'd seen in retail - but right next to Whole foods so I'm assuming they got footfall.
post #3 of 15

Sun Valley has three mainstream shops in Ketchum, one at the mountain with several locations, plus several specializing in back-country or cross-country equipment, plus several boots only.

post #4 of 15

Took me a several years to figure out how many different companies had ski shops at Alta.  Powder House has shops in GMD, Alta Lodge, and Rustler Lodge.  Pretty sure the Alta Ski Shop is owned by the same company as the lifts, so is the only one with on-mountain locations at Alf's and Watson's.  There is also a ski shop in the Peruvian Lodge.

 

The different companies at Alta carry different brands when it comes to rental skis, especially demo skis.  For instance, if you want to try Kastle, then Peruvian is the place to go.  Alta Ski Shop carries DPS.  Powder House has Blizzard.

 

I found that at Big Sky, since the Big Sky Resort rentals carried Rossi, the big independent ski shop at the base didn't bother to have any Rossi demo skis.  Moonlight base lodge has a ski shop too.  There is also a pretty big shop in Meadow Village, which is a 10-min drive away and where a lot of rental condos are location.

 

At the other end of the size spectrum, Massanutten Resort has ski stuff (clothing, gloves, goggles) in the "General Store" (also has basic groceries for resort guests cooking in the condos) next to the ski lodge and a decent size rental fleet.  Not sure they even have demo skis.  They have folks who know how to tune/wax skis and boards, check bindings, etc.  There is a small independent ski/board shop about a 10 min drive from the mountain that is only open during ski season (mid-Dec to mid-Mar).  Wintergreen has a pretty good retail ski shop at the resort that carries demo skis, which is associated with Freestyle of Charlottesville (an hour away).  Remember, Massanutten and Wintergreen are in northern Virginia.  Not exactly ski country.

post #5 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by fatbob View Post

Speaking if which how did that Epic Store at Frisco work out, anyone know? - the most soulless bloodsucking concept I'd seen in retail - but right next to Whole foods so I'm assuming they got footfall.

Now is that any way to talk about VR? biggrin.gif
post #6 of 15

I think the reality is based on the clientele, and how much they ski versus shop. We were in Vail during Christmas week a couple of years ago, to catch up with family for two days. We were skiing elsewhere before and after. It never ceases to amaze me at how many shops there are in Vail, and near Beaver Creek, and how much product they move, at insane prices. We ducked into one shop to just look around, and there was a woman who was in the process of outfitting her 5-6 grandchildren, who had just a arrived, I'm guessing from South America. Little kids, maybe 5-13. Every kid got a brand new helmet, high end goggles, and Hestra gloves. And, they all got frightfully expensive clothes. Pretty sure it was all Sypder, and Arc' for the older two. Smart wool base layers, socks, hats.  I was just blown away that Gramma spent about $8K without blinking.

 

I mentioned it to our son, and he simply said "they'll leave it all here when they leave." REALLLLY??? I guess that's very, very common. Why bother loading that stuff on your private plane? Blew me away. You can buy anything in the Vail Valley, evidently every year. I know it's but a small part of the resort clientele, but some people drop a lot of money in those shops. Bogner, Kjus, etc. 

 

That is 180 degrees from my New England Yankee roots. Stowe, the Sugarbush area, and Stratton have a lot of shops, and shoppers, for New England. Some other areas, not so much. Sugarloaf, arguably the biggest mountain, and great skiing, has one shop on the mountain, and two specialty shops off mountain. One is very small race/boot/tuning shop 15 miles for the ski area. The two smaller shops are absolutely top quality, great staff, great products. No shoppers milling around, though! 

post #7 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by hrspear View Post
 

I've been thinking lately about how many shops a mountain can support.  Does it vary by the type of guest that is attracted?  Or is it simple math based on the number of skier visits generated?  What about four season sustainability?  Seems like most ski shops I am familiar with switch to be bike shops in the summer.

 

For this discussion, I'm excluding the stores at the ski resorts themselves.

 

For example, there are 6 shops I can think of at Killington, and I'm probably forgetting at least one.  On the other hand there are only 3 shops in Stowe.  Presumably this means that there is more demand for these goods and services at Killington than at Stowe.  Is it as simple as that, or is there more to it?  Are there that many more skiers at Killington?  It seems like Stowe has at least as many restaurant seats as Killington...maybe I'm getting faked out (perhaps it's more restaurants, but fewer tables).

 

I'm raising these mountains as examples because I'm familiar with both.  I'm interested to hear the perspective of others on this topic.

 

Killington has like 10+ shops...........I'm even having a hard time counting.

post #8 of 15

Snowshoe in WV is the only "destination resort" in the region.  Plenty of expensive shops in the resort village, which is at the top of the ridgeline.  Vacationers who can afford to pay for Snowshoe lodging probably include folks who like to do a little shopping while on vacation.  Also at a few independent ski shops close to Snowshoe, one near Silver Creek and at least one more on the road leading to the base.

post #9 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by hrspear View Post
 

I've been thinking lately about how many shops a mountain can support.  Does it vary by the type of guest that is attracted?  Or is it simple math based on the number of skier visits generated?  What about four season sustainability?  Seems like most ski shops I am familiar with switch to be bike shops in the summer.

 

For this discussion, I'm excluding the stores at the ski resorts themselves.

 

For example, there are 6 shops I can think of at Killington, and I'm probably forgetting at least one.  On the other hand there are only 3 shops in Stowe.  Presumably this means that there is more demand for these goods and services at Killington than at Stowe.  Is it as simple as that, or is there more to it?  Are there that many more skiers at Killington?  It seems like Stowe has at least as many restaurant seats as Killington...maybe I'm getting faked out (perhaps it's more restaurants, but fewer tables).

 

I'm raising these mountains as examples because I'm familiar with both.  I'm interested to hear the perspective of others on this topic.

 

It has a great deal to do with the clientele, location, and overall skier traffic. In your example, Killington gets far more skier visits per year than Stowe. A busy day at Stowe is having 6000-7000 people on the mountain. I'm going to guess based on my experience with other S. VT areas that KMart a busy day is somewhere in the 20k range. Also in Stowe, a decent portion of the clientele are individuals who have passes, or ski frequently at Stowe. Those type of people tend to need less shopping than occasional and casual skiers, who are apt to not have pieces of equipment, or forget them. Also, you have to consider the context of where Stowe is vs Killington as well. Killington is kind of on its own as far as its surroundings. You have Rutland fairly nearby, but there's nothing in Rutland really. Stowe is located near Waterbury and the Mad River Valley, which have their own shops. Also, Stowe is a short drive from Burlington, which has 3 very solid, high volume shops in OGE, Alpine Shop, and Skirack. I'm a Stowe skier, but my shop is OGE, since I live in the Burlington area. 

 

Also, you count 3 shops in Stowe, by which I guess you're saying AJ's, Skiershop, and Pinnacle. That count could be going down by one in the near future. Rumors are swirling that one of those shops is in serious trouble. 

post #10 of 15

Great thread.  The entire state of Oregon now only has 7 specialty ski shops (down from 14 just a few years ago), and maybe another 7 that are ski shops in the winter (my shop being a good example). That is to serve 3 million people, 6 small resorts, and 3 larger resorts.  The city of Bend specifically has 3 wintertime ski shops (and a board shop or 2) to serve tourists and a local 80k population: when I was a kid, with 12k people living here, there were 6 shops.  I think going forward, the only place I would want to own a ski shop is in a big destination with consistent snow/snowmaking. That high dollar customer who can pay full retail on softgoods is going to always pay the bills and then some.  What we see in Oregon is the opposite: everyone waiting for end of the year sales, people not wanting/needing the latest gear, and it is basically impossible to make a living being a ski shop.  Hence the recent closure of many shops.  But a poster above was correct: for high net worth types, the convenience of getting what you want, trying it on, buying what you need with a minimum of time invested is worth paying full retail for.  I know if I were wealthy, I wouldn't spend my time shopping around for the best "deal". I would get what I really wanted and use my limited time to go ski it.  But the shopping around definitely will always hurt the city shop the most, or the shop that has a lower end clientele (or a clientele that, in a place like Bend, people feel they deserve a discount because they are a "local").  Seems like tourists with very good jobs would always be the most reliable high-margin spenders, and personally are my favorite customer. They are willing to pay for the service and knowledge that a shop like ours provides. There is always a niche for businesses that provide great service and knowledge. 

post #11 of 15

Occurs to me that the two ski shops in the region (NC, VA) that I know the best turn into a different kind of sports shop for most of the year.  They do clothing and gear for warm weather water sports, biking, and disc golf.

post #12 of 15

The elephant in this thread is the internet.  

 

I got my boots and a helmet at a shop because it was essential for me to try those on, but I think nearly everything else I got discounted online.  I wait very patiently for big sales or good deals on eBay for the items I need because I am on a tight budget.  

post #13 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by marznc View Post
 

Occurs to me that the two ski shops in the region (NC, VA) that I know the best turn into a different kind of sports shop for most of the year.  They do clothing and gear for warm weather water sports, biking, and disc golf.

 

Strangely, the biggest shop here in the Western PA region (Pittsburgh) USED to do that.  At different times, they sold tennis gear, bicycles, etc....   Now, none of that.  Instead, today they close their doors late spring and reopen in the fall...

post #14 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by river-z View Post
 

The elephant in this thread is the internet.  

 

I got my boots and a helmet at a shop because it was essential for me to try those on, but I think nearly everything else I got discounted online.  I wait very patiently for big sales or good deals on eBay for the items I need because I am on a tight budget.  

In any area of retail it's a given that internet sales are a major force.  Hence the need to be offering something differentiated in bricks n mortar stores.  Whether that's pure convenience (the internet isn't much good when you've left your gloves on the bus on the way to the slopes) or additional service (guidance where the customer does not know what might suit them) or exclsuivity on certain products is something for the retailer to decide.

 

Living in a non resort market I've seen any independent ski shops near me close over the last 10 years and 1 big box that focused on snowsports in the winter open and close its local outlet.  The successor to all those is the premier Euro sports supermarket which deals largely with own brand and is sorta as you'd expect on hard goods.  At the same time the cycling boom has seen lots of LBS established and make a go of it. 

post #15 of 15

Most brick & mortar stores also have internet sites you can purchase from. Most are competitively priced with internet only sites.

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