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Is SportChek a safe place to buy higher-end skis?

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 

SportChek in my city had a fantastic deal on a pair  of Rossignol Experience 88 skis. I was set to buy them, but a local ski shop told me that this store chain often gets "knock-off" gear, that has the same paint and decals as the real gear, but with cheaper guts.

 

I don't want to get stuck with a replica instead of the real thing. Any thoughts or experience on this issue?

post #2 of 22

When that happens they're generally made as a special run by the same manufacturer, and the model name is *not* the same as in the specialty shop.

As to whether these are some fakes - SportChek have too much at stake to pull stunts like selling fakes.

post #3 of 22

SportCheks will sometimes get "deck" skis.  A ski produced with a special topsheet, but it will be the same as the inline model.  I would have no issues buying skis from SportChek. 

 

BUT, I would never get anything mounted there.  Even if it's a plate system, I would walk out the door with them.  I would also only buy boots there if I 100% knew which boot I needed, in the size I required.  Boot salesperson =/= bootfitter.

post #4 of 22

No to "knock off gear"....I would have no problems buying from them if you know what you are getting (e.g. exact model).

I've picked up my Volkl Kendo's at Sport Chek when they were blowing out their gear (e.g. they DO NOT like to hold inventory) and they are EXACTLY the same ski as the one in the ski shop.

 

My friend actually bought his V-Werks Katana's at Sport Chek at the end of last season because they were such a great deal.  $550 CAD compared to the $1100 CAD the ski shop was still asking for the same ski.

 

A bunch of race parents loaded up on Hestra mitts for the kids at the end of last year too.

I picked up all our Sidas Pro boot heaters at Sport Chek as well given they were literally $120 less per set than what the ski shop was able to do (even factoring racer pricing).

 

So yes Sport Chek is perfectly safe to buy high end gear, they fully back warranty as well (I had a boot heater battery go wonky and they simply swapped them out for new ones).  

 

You will notice that their high end gear selection is MUCH less than before (I believe their buyer didn't bring as much in for good reason).

 

Service and knowledge is hit or miss (mostly miss) but on occasion you'll get a race coach or somebody that actually knows what they are talking about.

post #5 of 22

Also FYI sign up for their email newsletter and get an additional 10% off your first purchase.....this makes the already great deal even better,

post #6 of 22
I would definitely buy at sportchek - amazing end of season deals. I saw Volkl Ones for $250 in Edmonton last week (but too short for me!)
post #7 of 22
Thread Starter 

Thanks for all the great advice! This make my decision a lot easier.

post #8 of 22

Meanwhile, I'd be wary of that local ski shop now. I understand wanting to protect your business, but lying to customers to prevent them from getting a deal is shady. 

post #9 of 22

All true.  They have had a number of rebranded models over the years (same guts, different top sheet: e.g. the Atomic 9:18 was rebranded as the C9 and sold for less $).  Or different guts and a 'knock off' topsheet (they had an imitation X-Scream years ago).  But, I haven't seen any of that for a long time.  Everything seems to be 'real' these days.

 

I've bought a lot of stuff there over the past few years.  No worries.  Great sale prices and clearance.

 

But as others have said I would not rely on them for boot fitting or tech work.  IF you know that one of their boots fits your foot, you may score a great deal, but then be prepared to do all the fitting mods yourself or pay a boot fitter an hourly wage to work on them.  Heck, don't even ask them for ski advice.  You'd better know what model/size you want.

 

Happy shopping!

post #10 of 22

Might just be some "euro only" graphic or something.  Manufacturers usually won't have 2 different skis that have the same name.  The exception would be a "rental specific" model. For example, the Blizzard Brahma for 2016 has carbon and 2 sheets of metal. The RTL Brahma for 2016 is a Black Pearl in mens lengths: carbon, but no metal, which is more suitable to the types of people who ski less than 10 days a year and don't need nor want a stiff ski with metal.  

 

I wouldn't sweat it, although I have never heard of the chain. 

post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by CanmoreBruce View Post
 

All true.  They have had a number of rebranded models over the years (same guts, different top sheet: e.g. the Atomic 9:18 was rebranded as the C9 and sold for less $).  Or different guts and a 'knock off' topsheet (they had an imitation X-Scream years ago).  But, I haven't seen any of that for a long time.  Everything seems to be 'real' these days.

 

I've bought a lot of stuff there over the past few years.  No worries.  Great sale prices and clearance.

 

But as others have said I would not rely on them for boot fitting or tech work.  IF you know that one of their boots fits your foot, you may score a great deal, but then be prepared to do all the fitting mods yourself or pay a boot fitter an hourly wage to work on them.  Heck, don't even ask them for ski advice.  You'd better know what model/size you want.

 

Happy shopping!

I find that advice to be true of many, many shops anymore.  This is a very tough market: most people shop online instinctively, so when someone comes in the door at a random shop, they might not be selling enough to have anyone knowledgeable about product.  The tech work at many shops is solid, however; bootfitting is a specialty item, go see a specialist and pay extra! 

post #12 of 22
Nothing wrong with Sportchek. You can get some really good deals there. I picked up a Marmot shell jacket for CAD$99 (US$70) and a pair of snowshoes for CAD$54 as examples.
post #13 of 22

Sport Chek is easily Canada's biggest sporting goods retailer.  The main focus seems to be clothing and general sporting goods.  They sell lower end bikes and the bulk of their skis are often beginner/intermediate models.  There's pretty much one in every mall.  It's a good sports store, just not a proper specialist ski retailer.  I'll wager their hockey gear sales are an order of magnitude higher than ski gear.    

 

They are a big enough chain that in the past they did sell rebadged versions of normal ski models.  Years ago the Atomic rep gave me the skinny on how they'd make custom top sheets for some of the models sold there.

post #14 of 22
I no longer waste time at sportchek. They cater to Joe Everyday, who skis 0-3 days/year. The equipment reflects this. But boy does Joe wear lots of clothes. Let's face it: everyone wears clothes, and I believe sportchek tries to make money on helping people to create the appearance of athleticism.

I do long for the good old days of sportmart, the ugly stepchild of sportchek. Absolute lowest end gear, but I filled my dresser with their $10 base layers and bargain outerwear. Now I'm elated when i find base layers for $20 confused.gif
post #15 of 22

Buy base layers at Costco.

post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

They cater to Joe Everyday, who skis 0-3 days/year. The equipment reflects this. 

 

On the plus side they did have a surplus of Rossi E98's in a 188cm.  So I snapped up a pair of them on deep clearance.  I guess they didn't sell too well with the 0-3 days per year crowd :)

post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

I no longer waste time at sportchek. They cater to Joe Everyday, who skis 0-3 days/year. The equipment reflects this. But boy does Joe wear lots of clothes. Let's face it: everyone wears clothes, and I believe sportchek tries to make money on helping people to create the appearance of athleticism.

I do long for the good old days of sportmart, the ugly stepchild of sportchek. Absolute lowest end gear, but I filled my dresser with their $10 base layers and bargain outerwear. Now I'm elated when i find base layers for $20 confused.gif

 

Ditto..  sportchek used to carry a great selection of skis.. now.. the only good stuff is NOS that they haven't moved..  if your lucky to come across it.. depends on the store.  mid-low end stuff there pretty much anymore.

 

And don't get boots there.. go to someone that actually knows that they're doing.  I was skiing with a guy on the weekend who was recently outfitted from a sportchek..  guy was about 250lbs.. in a pair of low end rossi 100 flex boots.  But he was elated because he got "a deal" and they were the "most comfortable ski boots ever".. and at $400 off retail MSRP how could someone go wrong..  He was happy on the hill so I just smiled and nodded and went on my merry way.. maybe it's all he'll ever need.. but why buy twice when you can get the right thing once.

post #18 of 22

Your lucky to have found an 188 length. I always check their stock when close. If they ever have anything over 175 you might be able to pick it up at a good price at some point. Have gotten a few very good deals over the years when they either could not move it or did not know value of what they really had.

You rarely see much over the beginer/int level but I wouldn't hesitate to buy there. Just don't expect any real knowledge on equipment from staff. Like most big chain "sports stores" it's really a "sports look store. 

post #19 of 22

True!  I've noticed that a lot of their boots max out at around 100 flex.  And often times they don't even seem to carry the longest length of some ski models.  I was thinking about replacing my old Sidestash with some Annex 108s they had on the sale rack, but it turns out they never even stocked the 191cm length, preferring to focus on the shorter sizes.

 

Obviously not all advanced skiers need the longest length, but I'm kinda big so the longest length is what I look for.

post #20 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metaphor_ View Post

I no longer waste time at sportchek. They cater to Joe Everyday, who skis 0-3 days/year. The equipment reflects this. But boy does Joe wear lots of clothes. Let's face it: everyone wears clothes, and I believe sportchek tries to make money on helping people to create the appearance of athleticism.

I do long for the good old days of sportmart, the ugly stepchild of sportchek. Absolute lowest end gear, but I filled my dresser with their $10 base layers and bargain outerwear. Now I'm elated when i find base layers for $20 confused.gif

 

 

Even a higher end stores stock more soft goods than hard. When Sporting Life opened in Ottawa after buying family-owned Tommy and Lefebvre the stock mix changed immediately from maybe 60/40  or 50/50 hardgoods to soft to about 15/85 with a lot more high-end Montcler, Kjus, and Canada Goose clothing. In fact it's kinda hard to actually find hard goods in that store compared to the old T&L.

post #21 of 22

Actually Sport Chek used to stock A LOT of beefy boots.  Lange XT130s for example, upper end Heads, etc., they just didn't sell because the person that typically goes into a Sport Chek isn't looking to drop $700 on a pair of boots; especially at a place that doesn't grind/punch or anything else to get your boot to fit perfectly.  However when they blow out the inventory at 60-70% off, there are some great steals if you know what you are looking for.  Then pay your bootfitter to grind/punch away and you are still way ahead.  If you don't have a sniff as to what will work, then yes you are better off passing.

 

Sport Chek also used to carry a big selection of BC boots, high end Scarpas and the like.  Again don't think they sold because the buyer looking for that gear again isn't going to Sport Chek.  

The reason we don't see them carry those lines or high end brands much anymore is simply because they didn't sell and they had to unload at a huge discount (again they do not like to carry inventory).  The company buyers have learned and have adjusted accordingly.

 

However you can still find some amazing deals.

post #22 of 22
Thread Starter 

I'd agree with everybody here on the boot issue. I'm hanging on tightly to my old pair of X-Wave 8.0 boots, that fit my feet like they were sprayed on. I knew exactly what ski I was looking for, and I was pretty surprised to see the Rossi Experience 88 at this store. Hence my original post. Having taken a peek into the service shop at one Sport Chek, and chatting with the tech there, I'd sure go to a dedicated ski shop for boots and bindings. They're just way too important to go without experienced techs working on them.

 

So, now I'm the proud owner of a pair of 180cm Exp 88s, and am grumpily looking outside at the +5C temperatures, that have melted all the snow around my house!

 

I'm still shopping at the ski shop where the sales guy tried to steer me off Sport Chek. Overall their service has been great, and I mentioned to that particular guy that he shouldn't be trying to beat a chain store on prices, but on service instead. That's the way it always goes with small stores. The other sales staff have been great.

 

Again, many thanks for all the good advice here.

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