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Toronto Ski Show **Rant**

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
So the time of year is once again coming up for the famous Toronto Ski and Snowboard show, and for the second year in a row, Cupolo Sports is still banned.

Let me bring you up to speed on this sititution. 2 years ago, I left another Ski shop to come and work for the Cupolos, I was welcomed into the store and was given a great amount of freedom to try new things, and really enjoyed the challenges that presented me with the move.

One of the first things, that was going to be new to me, was going to the ski show as a vendor. We registered late, so our booth was less than huge in size, but we still made due.

The TO Ski Show which has been longly over rated as the place to get the best deals was in for the shock of its life. We went there with the thought that this was going to be an incredibly competitve show which in turn would leave the consumers with the best deals they could get. What we found out was completly different. Every time we dropped a price below MSRP what ever product it was the rep from the company would be over saying every other shop was complaining, this happened so much that by mid way through the second day I ripped all the prices off the snowboards, and decided to start the bartering with only the help o my memory.

When the ski show ended we had made a few enemy's with our competitors, but we where not concerned, because in the end the consumers had gotten the best deals and we had a really succesful weekend. What came next was the shock. Three of the bigger ski shops in Ontario (I am not going to mention names) through a hissy fit with the promoter of the ski show, and said they would boycotte the show if we ever got in again, and what do you know 2 years later and we are still banned for giving customers the best price.

Sorry to rant and rave, but I really had a blast at the ski show ( I know it is sick but I like my work, and I especially like the competitiveness of the show), and I think it is complete bull #@$% that because other shops would prefer to price fix there products instead of competiting that we can not be included in this event.:
post #2 of 29
Is there a place right near the show that you could rent for the days during the show...set up there...they can't stop you from doing that.
post #3 of 29
Thread Starter 
We have already thaught of that, but unfortunetly the show is kind of on the outskirts of Toronto, so it wouldn't work, but thanks for the suggestion. The only thing we can do now is grin and bear it, and pretty much just wait and cross our fingers for next year.
post #4 of 29
This is America. You can sell your product for whatever price you like. It's called "free" enterprise.

Too bad you didn't RAISE your prices, then demand that they all RAISE theirs to match yours. What's the difference?

Teachskiljp has a good idea. In NYC, they sell right on the sidewalk. You can get a watch out of a coat pocket. See what city rules are in effect for that type of peddling. Get a permit, if you can.

It's an outrage when people try to run other's businesses. It's like organized crime.:

I don't know enough about the law to know if they violated your rights. I'd look into a lawsuit.
post #5 of 29
Cupolo Sports is in Canada.
post #6 of 29
Thread Starter 

The same free enterprise laws, apply here as well, we have been to court over this issue but what happened/happening has not really been discussed with me. The sidewalk idea unfortunetly wouldn't cut it, because the show takes place at the exibition center, and all the property around the area is owned by the center, so for us to open a sidewalk shop we would be probally about 2kms from the show.

What really burns me about this sititution is when we got there, we where looked at as nothing but a small ski shop from Niagara and nobody took us serious. Then when we kicked serious A$$ instead of competing they pulled dirty politics and got us banned.

**On a funny side note about the hatred we recieved from the rival shops, about 6 months later at a dealer demo day in Tremblant a few of the guys from an unmentionable shop were almost ready to come to blows with me about the show....Its funny how when it comes to buisness when things get competitive they duck their tails and run, but when the out number a guy three to one, all of a sudden they get tough!?!
post #7 of 29
Originally Posted by Bonni
Too bad you didn't RAISE your prices, then demand that they all RAISE theirs to match yours. What's the difference?
I think only the airlines and the oil companies get to do that!
post #8 of 29
It's called collusion and it's illegal. I think it would make an interesting article in whichever newspaper is not getting advertising dollars for the event. I read the Globe and Mail and don't recall an ad but there may be some in the Toronto edition. Nothing like a little bad publicity to smarten them the hell up.
post #9 of 29
Originally Posted by BillA
Cupolo Sports is in Canada.
My bad.
post #10 of 29
There's nothing stopping your from advertising in the papers and having a big sale in a rented warehouse at the same time.
post #11 of 29
Hey Matt. I agree with you in that what was done is wrong. Frankly you were doing what the skiing consumer needed. And still needs. If you want a Tremblant hookup you have one with my sites. 8D
post #12 of 29
It is totally wrong for what they did. Fortunately, I think your company is becoming well known for its low price and great service. May be you should try to get that situation on the news somewhere. That would be a great publicity for your company (being excluded for low price and great service). I can tell you that from my own experience, you are the first one I go to whenever I want to buy new gear and your name is being recommended around the UCONN area.
post #13 of 29
Maybe the Toronto Ski Show is set up as a non-competitive Exihibition. Maybe everyone agrees to sell at the MSRP. If this is the case, you were completely out of line.

Some Shows are set up to give the visitors a chance to see a lot of products and to meet a lot of vendors. Then they can visit the retail shops to get the low prices.

Were you the only store offering low prices, while everyone else was offering MSRP?
post #14 of 29
Originally Posted by PVnRT
Maybe the Toronto Ski Show is set up as a non-competitive Exihibition. Maybe everyone agrees to sell at the MSRP. If this is the case, you were completely out of line.

Some Shows are set up to give the visitors a chance to see a lot of products and to meet a lot of vendors. Then they can visit the retail shops to get the low prices.

Were you the only store offering low prices, while everyone else was offering MSRP?
Well the ski expos/shows I've worked everybody is selling. And quite often bigger stores/chains set the tone of what was going on, and what the pricing structure will be. Meaning only they can sell product basically. Then they put pressure on the reps if somebody is selling the same goods at a lower price.

They flat out tell the reps, whose companies foot most of the expo price tag; "get rid of them or we will reduce our order". That is how it works.

Ski/board reps do not make alot of profit off of smaller shops. Where they make their money is off of larger ones. So the reps do what the larger ski/board shop chains want. If you guys knew the actual mark up on ski and boards. Well you would be seriously shocked.

Believe me I've recieved quite the education while researching my ski test. I was even offered a kind of bribe on Saturday from a company. I told them to kiss my ass.
post #15 of 29
I don't know Canadian law on the subject, but I doubt it's much different from most other civilized common-law jurisdictions. In which case, retailers banding together into a de facto group (particularly a group which, together, has a large percentage of the market) to pressure another retailer to sell at a fixed price (and no lower) is a no-no. Of course, if push comes to shove, the organizers of the show would probably say Cupolo's was left out for some entirely different reason: we don't allow shops whose names start with "C" to participate ... okay, more likely something more clever and less obvious than that.
post #16 of 29
I have never been to the Toronto Ski Show. However, if it is like the "swaps" that are run by the Ski Patrol and resorts in the Barrie area, then it is no place to buy skis and snowboards. Most of stuff is new-old stock, often 2 or more seasons out of date brought in by vendors. Unless you know this, the prices seem good. The "staff" all have name badges that indicate that they are with the swap and not vendors. They lead you away from the swap stuff to their old stock. Furthermore, there is essentially no warranty with this stuff as all sales are final and you would have no idea who to go see for warranty. After one "swap" I saw the unsold skis and boards being loaded into a cube van. The equipment was being thrown onto a sheet of cardboard. When it was full another sheet was put down and so on.
So... Based on what you say about the Toronto Ski Show and my experience as a customer with other shows, maybe Cupolo's would be better off not being associated with it.
post #17 of 29

Right across the street fromt the Toronto Show is the National Trade Center. It is filled with different sized halls, most of which are way too big. It also has meeting rooms, that are the size of a high school classroom. That would be perfect: No entrance fee required.

Or you could look into renting space in the hallway of the building (you don't need all that much right?).

Or if you REALLY want to piss them off, you could put your stuff on sale upstairs in the actual swap area.
post #18 of 29
I really know nothing about the situation with Matt/Cupolo's/Toronto ski show..so I can't/won't comment..
I WILL say this..my FIRST dealings with Cupolo WERE at the Toronto ski show.VERY positive..THEN at the retail end THEN on-line(Ebay)..ditto.
The Toronto ski show is I have heard..by FAR the largest in the world..I believe it.I am not a great Torontonian..ya ya..as far as big cities goes..it's the best.
It is VERY well publicised!..VERY easily accessed by transit/driving/paking..it IS expensive..you pay $13 to get in..that oh by the way is the ONLY way to the swap meet.Go at an off time..you WILL line up..just to get in.AND it will be a ZOO inside..I shouldn't really say this..but I would NEVER go on a weekend..I cannot imagine how busy it is.
It is housed in a nice big building!..I go every year..just got back..this year there were an almost unbelievable 175 business's in there representing just about everything in the sport.This isn't really trade show/boothy..it does have a fair bit of glitz to it..seems open/market-like in areas..a sprinkling of expensive sport utes,expensive holidays here and there.Seems frenzied..competitive..LOTS! of taped on/magic markered prices..ALL the business's WERE BUSY..line ups at almost all the cash's I saw..ALL the sales people were busy..NO pushy sales people..they don't have to be..seemed almost everyone was buying stuff..carrying stuff around..seemed to me to be a HUGE! amount of gloves there??..too many to look at..looked quickly like $20-$30 bucks Cdn..and you'ld leave there with ANY glove you wanted..I really can't comment on other prices because I wasn't paying attention..didn't go there to shop..sure were a LOT!! of people buying though..
The swap meet is basically run by the Canadian Ski Patrol..if you're within a couple hundred miles..and want/need some good used equipment go there.DO NOT!! go there looking for junk..OR dirt cheap stuff..IT IS NOT THERE!!.Seems a bit pricey for used equipment..BUT then you start thinking about the quality of this stuff..how new this stuff is..and what great shape it is in..AND the cost of THIS stuff new.The swap is so big that ALL the boots are divided up into categories..easy to shop..the skis are set up from shortest to tallest..again..easy to shop..NOT!!!..let me see now..there were..4 or 5 aisles..skis on BOTH sides to look at..I'ld say 100' long each..maybe a bit more..ya there is some new old stock..some rental stuff..but most of the stuff is from individuals..who take it/send it there to sell privately.LOTS! of kids stuff and mid-fats..Looks to be all staffed by Cdn.Ski.Patrol..didn't see ANY reps. there..lots of help.Pretty low key friendly atmosphere.If you're goin' to buy skis..take a boot..they offer an accredited binding adjustment and check.Last year there was a new Wintersteiger..and wax cheap.Didn't see it..but didn't look this year.The stuff at the swap..gets it's prices lowerred from Thursday to Sunday..I've heard it's pretty much gone by then.
I LOVE! the street car stop outside the show...all these people carrying ski gear that they bought at the show..street car FULL..heading to the subway..

I'll go again next year..
post #19 of 29

I would seriously consider turning the sow's ear into the silk purse. Why not have an ad campaign emphasizing that Cupolo offers too good of a deal to get into the TO show. Come shop at the place where prices are too low for the show! Banned for low prices! Grab 'em where you're sure to get their attention and squeeze!

Years ago the president for a shoe company from Milwaukee was banned from selling product in Japan. He promptly boarded a plan to Toykyo with a load of his products and when the Japanese tried to block him from entry, he made national news and got a lot of notoriety ( and not a few new sales). Reagan named him small business person of the year.

I would say, don't whine, win.

post #20 of 29
Rob: That is a GREAT idea, if you want Cupolo to lose its right to sell skis. The manufacturers like to protect their "autorized dealers" and the MAP (minimum advertised price). These guys are capitalists who like monopolies, and things done their way! If Mr. Cupolo would run an add like that, I am sure that he would receive threatening calls from his friends over at Atomic and Volkl. It is the same with ebay. Everyone could offer a better deal on-line than is available at retail shops. There is no overhead, and the demand for "cheap" skis impressive. The problem is that Atomic, Volkl, Rossignol, etc., do not like their products to be sold that way. THey will do just about whatever they can to curtail it. Remember, they are business people. In reality, they only care about their bottom line.
post #21 of 29

Thanks for the note. To avoid price fixing charges, all that manufacurers can do is recommend a price and, if they terminated a dealer as a result, they would open themselves to a major claim. If a dealer has a restricted territory, I don't know what would stop them from adversting in the Toronto area.

post #22 of 29
I first want to thank everyone for their support and input. We are trying not to whin about the problem, just drawing your attention to the fact that price fixing is happening at the Toronto Ski and Snowboard Show. We have been to court about this and there is still a pending law suit in the works. Our only goal is to be able to go back into the show and compete. The biggest thing that bothers me is "the show" buckling to the pressures of other retailers and openly admitting to it court. As well, they bugged me for years to go to the show and offered some advise on how competitive the show was. We went in based on the information they provided to us.... Every ski retailer has the same opportunity to purchase special deals from the manufacturers. We are being punished for negotiating a better deal from our suppliers. As far as the ad campaign, it would be very costly to do this Toronto. We are a small family run business and I am not sure I want to spend 100K to make a point. Ski companies do try to bully retailers about pricing, but I am not a fan of over charging customers. I am a regular guy, who appreicates how hard people work for their paycheck. We are supposed to be living in a Free Enterprise Society and I don't think that the manufacturers or other retailers should have the right to force you to spend more of your hard earned money than you should.
As always any input is greatly appreciated
Jay Cupolo
Cupolo Sports
post #23 of 29
If it would make you feel any better I will let you sell me a new pair of Volkl six stars for $300. That would really get those other stores angry at you.
post #24 of 29
Great post Jay - I've personally never found the show worthwile, but perhaps if they would let some real competive atmosphere blossom, it would make it better for the consumers (and maybe then I'll start going again).

By the way, (not to hijack the thread) - did you take over Mostly Hockey and/or get a Toronto area location?
post #25 of 29
How about $300.00 for each ski.. I will even throw in a pair of bindings free !!!
post #26 of 29
We did take over Mostly Hockey. It is now located on Finch Street, between keele and dufferin
post #27 of 29
And I thought Bonni was being broad-minded by incuding Canada w/in America!

It does seem to me that you folks do occupy enough real estate on the continent to qualify as Americans.

I'm sorry to hear about Cupolos being excluded from this show. One of my pet peeves is the often enormous prices shops try to get for equipment. These are often shops without knowledgeable or competent staff, indeed without any significant value to add to the purchase and yet they insist upon unbeleivable markups! I remember going into the shop down the street at the end of the season and asking the shop guy what kind of price he would giveme on a pair of slalom skis. He muttered something about "I'll have to check" and disappeared for a long time (you know the drill) and returned to quote me a price of 500$! This after the season was over and without bindings! I just laughed. He acted as if this were some kind of great deal and was upset that I didn't agree. Maybe I've just been around the ski scene too long but I was offended that the guy seemed to think I'd just fallen off the proverbial turnip truck. I'd like to see such places driven out. They often don't offer much in the way of added value and tend to add to the percetion that skiing is elitist and prohibitively expensive.

I bought a great pair of race stock (and World Cup level) slalom skis from Cupolos last year for a very reasonable price with absolutely no hassles and would recommend them.
post #28 of 29
There must be a big mark up with skis. The same ski that sells for $800-900 during the season, can usually be had for 1/2 or less at the end of the season. I'm not sure if such a huge markup can be justified. All I know is that I refuse to pay full retail for skis when I can be patient and get it for 1/2 price later in the year.
post #29 of 29
If those are canadian dollars and decent bindings you could have yourself a deal. I just have to check and see if my wife has spent out my credit line. What's your address in Niagra Falls?
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