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Are Ski Shops In Your Area Really That Bad

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
1. Yes they all suck, and I hate them
2. The Tech is a 17 year old snowboarder who does'nt what end of a ski is the tip, but otherwise they are OK.
3. I get me boots at a good shop and shop on-line of mail order everything else.
4. I am lucky and have a great shop that does everything well

In the short time I have been here I have noticed that alot you sound like your local shops are not good at all, the techs are are morons, and you are lucky if the guy selling skis actually is a skier. What is your feelings on this.
Thanks
PS. How far are you willing to travel to get to a good shop, especially for boots.
post #2 of 30
We pretty much have 3 shops here. Two are large with multiple stores throught the area, one is a smaller single location.

The small, privately owned shop is excellent.

One of the "chains" I wouldn't let wax the old fiberglass skis rusting in my garage or trust them to even rec a ski package for a beginner. I can't speak for the other chain as I've never really dealt with them.
post #3 of 30
1 of my friends is the head ski tech at the mt. :-) and everything else is ebay but the boots.
post #4 of 30
We have basicly 4 shops in the Philly area. Since I know people at all 4, I won't bad mouth any, not that any deserve it. I will say all the marginal shops have been weeded out.
post #5 of 30
Shops here mostly suck, except for ours, that is ;-) I would say that I get alot of customers pissed off at lack of service and plentiful arrogance from some of the other shops in the area. Most of the shops around here have never even heard of a shell fit. It is rare that you will find a salesperson who has even skied most of the skis on the wall, rarer still the person who has not only skied them, but is skilled enough to recognize the strengths and weaknesses of the ski design, and who it is/isn't suitable for, and why the skier needs to update their technique before they can utilize the advantage of a shaped ski.

There is one guy locally who does race tunes and bootfitting that is very good, but he doesn't sell hardgoods. I guess the attitude of the shops basically matches the attitude of the reps who sell the goods-they both could care less and are in the "industry" because they don't want to get a real job. If we actually had decent service in this industry (both from manufacturers and retailers) then the industry would have a much brighter future. Lack of professionalism really hurts the ski industry, IMO.
post #6 of 30
We've got one really good one, one OK one, one really bad one, and REI.
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching
I guess the attitude of the shops basically matches the attitude of the reps who sell the goods-they both could care less and are in the "industry" because they don't want to get a real job. If we actually had decent service in this industry (both from manufacturers and retailers) then the industry would have a much brighter future. Lack of professionalism really hurts the ski industry, IMO.
This is really how I see it as well. The other day a rep from a major clothing brand came in and told me that shape skis are fad.
post #8 of 30
All Buffalo shops suck (period). In western Ny i am however very fortunate to be within driving distance of two very good shops. One of them is Snow Country in Rochester, and the other is Cupolo's in Niagra Falls, Canada. The local shops here do not sell any skis below msrp, and if they do it is about $100 below msrp. they have a gentlemans agreement between them that they will not cut prices or infringe on each others business. It forces Buffalo/Western Ny natives who do not know any better to pay a fortune for their equipment. What is worse is that it is very rare that you get a shop employee that actually knows what they are doing. None of the shops do proper boot fittings, or even offer an outlet for you to have it done properly. They will force you to use their services even though they know that you can do better else where, if you are willing to make the 1 - 2 hour drive.

The two shops above that i mentioned are great shops. Neither participate in price fixing with any other shops. They all also have a very knowledgable staff that is willing to help you out no matter what. They also realize that they may not always be able to offer you what you need and are sympathetic if you have to venture elsehwere for something like a boot fitting or professional footbeds. They also sell and stock race stock equipment, and offer it to racers at heavily discounted prices.

Later

GREG
post #9 of 30

....

We have 4 shops. One of them is a large regional chain with terrible prices and staff. The only reason I would go there is becasue they have an excellent clothing selection. Two are small local chains with two stores each. They're great shops, but they aren't going to go out of their way to help you out. ONe of them does host an annual pro night with some great prices. Finally, one is a single room shop dedicated almost exlusively to racing. All of the tuning machines are in the same room as all the merchandise (there are partitions, but its still only one room), the owner would like nothing more than to talk for hours about skiing, and he'll even let you watch him stonegrind, wax, etc. and guide you through the process. His prices are a little higher than the small local chains, but its the only place you'll find SG and DH boards and race stock boots.
post #10 of 30
Bootdude,

I would travel about 71.4 miles. But that is one-way. But it's still worth it.

I would have to say I rate my situation at about a number 4 on your list. I could travel another 30 minutes north to another shop that gets all the press but why waste my time. Just because you sponsor a ski film doesn't make you a good shop.


Ty
post #11 of 30
I just replied over in another thread about a shop experience.... reposting here.


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slightly off topic
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coach13
They have a great shop, you should stop over some time. It's a little out of your way, but it's worth it in terms of price and service. It's also a great place to get a great deal on late season leftovers of high end equipment.


I have to second this praise. My guyfriend/former instructor and I stumbled upon Pro Fit Ski & Skate in early November. Neither of us live in VA, but it is midway between us for weekends. We were boot-shopping for me as a beginner, and found the place in the Yellow pages.

I know nothing about the nuances of boot-fitting - I just know that I have been cursed with the hereditary-feet-from-hell. The shop guys spent TWO HOURS with me sizing, insole-ing, heating, blowing out golfball-size spots for my misshapen metatarsals... I was seriously impressed from a service perspective. My guyfriend was impressed from a "they knew what they were doing" perspective -- which he had not found at another shop we had been in. I also got an excellent price.

They apparently had another problem-foot customer who was unsure, because as I was checking out at the register, the guy who fit me came up and asked if I minded coming back to the seats and showing someone else my feet. I guess I was the poster-child for "if we can fit HER, we can fit ANYbody":
post #12 of 30
I second Taylormatt. the small private shop is the only one I patronize.
post #13 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching
Shops here mostly suck, except for ours, that is ;-) .
Which one is that?
post #14 of 30
Having just had a very good experience at Vertical Drop in St. Charles, I would say that not all ski shops suck.

I think being in Chicago might actually help here, as since we are not a ski destination spot, you have to run a quality shop to even make it worthwhile. If your market is saturated with tourist dollars, there probably isn't as much emphasis on individual experience and repeat business as there is on sheer volume.
post #15 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootDude
1. Yes they all suck, and I hate them
2. The Tech is a 17 year old snowboarder who does'nt what end of a ski is the tip, but otherwise they are OK.
3. I get me boots at a good shop and shop on-line of mail order everything else.
4. I am lucky and have a great shop that does everything well

In the short time I have been here I have noticed that alot you sound like your local shops are not good at all, the techs are are morons, and you are lucky if the guy selling skis actually is a skier. What is your feelings on this.
Thanks
PS. How far are you willing to travel to get to a good shop, especially for boots.
There are several good shops in the Chicago area. Visit King Keyser in Hinsdale and ask for 1 of the owners (Rick or Jim) to take care of you.

Have worked there for many years and most of the customers are return ones...some the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th generation. Very few unhappy campers but there are always some unreasonable people who will never be happy. The shop also makes mistakes like any other shop but they stand behind what they do and make it right. The emphasis is on return customers.

I had 2 old customers that I fitted with boots several years ago thank me yesterday for fitting them and another came in to talk to me about new skis. He thanked me for helping him buy skis 2 years ago.

Like Sears they have a satisfaction guarantee.
post #16 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsimeral
There are several good shops in the Chicago area. Visit King Keyser in Hinsdale and ask for 1 of the owners (Rick or Jim) to take care of you.

Have worked there for many years and most of the customers are return ones...some the 2nd, 3rd, or even 4th generation. Very few unhappy campers but there are always some unreasonable people who will never be happy. The shop also makes mistakes like any other shop but they stand behind what they do and make it right. The emphasis is on return customers.

I had 2 old customers that I fitted with boots several years ago thank me yesterday for fitting them and another came in to talk to me about new skis. He thanked me for helping him buy skis 2 years ago.

Like Sears they have a satisfaction guarantee.
Thanks, I was more or less seeing what people thought. I know Jim and Rick well as I manage the store that is oneof their main competitors (Snowcrest). I will tell them that you gave them a good review.
post #17 of 30
I have some generally good shops, but its definitely hard to find decent ones, as you can't pay salesmen and shop monkeys that much and stay afloat. In addition, if they're good at what they do, they move up and out into the national market. Not to mention the fact that the best guys will make the most money around a ski area, and not all of us live around ski areas.
post #18 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by glint
I have some generally good shops, but its definitely hard to find decent ones, as you can't pay salesmen and shop monkeys that much and stay afloat. In addition, if they're good at what they do, they move up and out into the national market. Not to mention the fact that the best guys will make the most money around a ski area, and not all of us live around ski areas.
Thats funny you say that, as I manager I know for a fact that I am making more than most shop people in the mountain towns, unfortunatly my cost of living is also pretty high (damn will county property tax). I think what it comes down to is having passion for the sport, not selling somthing just to sell it, but sell gear that makes the customer a better skier/have a better time. This mantra is hard for the average shop because of the investment in time, money and people. I know that between the owner and I we try to go to the PSIA acadamy every year, (the owner does go every year and has even tried out for the Demo Team). We actually make it a requirment that you must teach skiing or snowboarding to work our hardgoods floor. Right now there are two level threes, three level twos and a couple AASI guys on staff, of course having an indoor ski school helps (Gold Merit PSIA). I guess what I was wondering is, are there other shops out there with kind of dedication/passion.
post #19 of 30
Well, I'm in Iowa....what's a ski shop?

Seriously, we have a couple shops nearby and I trust them to tune my skis..maybe. To do a boot fit I go to a great shop in MPLS (240 miles away) called Pierce Skate and Ski (or something like that). Great bootfitters. Needless to say, I have to do a lot online.
post #20 of 30
I'm a bit biased with reference to local shops, but I'll do my best to stay impartial...

My shop is a high-end store. The store owner, manager, and one assistant manager all do boot work, with the owner and manager being extremely good at what they do. Every employee is an avid skier or boarder. Our tech shop head has been doing his thing for years and years...and is around 40 years old. Same goes for thhe second in command in the shop. Our dry goods people know their stuff VERY well. We have a very good relationship with our reps and our brands. Product knowledge is heavily developed.

One of the others, probably the most direct form of competition, is not exactly what I'd consider a worthy opponent. I've had numerous dealings with 'em over the years on racing, club ski, and private purchase issues. I find them to lack integrity and have questionable ethics and business practises.

There are a couple other so-so shops in the area, but I don't have any direct experience with 'em.

There are several of the box stores in the city, too (the Mart and Chek)...product knowledge isn't great, the products themselves are low to mid grade at best, and I was genuinely horrified when the manager of one of the stores (who, incidentally, was responsible for training all others in binding work) once said "if you strip out a hole for mounting a binding, you'll be fine, 'cause there's 3 more to hold it in. The customer will never know"

Not exactly something I like to hear.
post #21 of 30

SW PA shops

Taylormatt and SpringsRegular--

What is the small local shop you are referring to? I work near Fox Chapel Ski (which is definitely small and local) and I really like the guy who works there (owner perhaps, German accent). He always seems to give fair and accurate advice. Only bought a pair of clearance SL11's from there this year, but prices seem to be about on par with anywhere else.

Which chain do you dislike? I will never take my skis back to Ski North. Got a stone grind mid-season last year and they thinned the plastic piece down to the fibers at the tail of my one ski. Unfortunately, I did not notice until a day or two later when I was loading my skis onto my car. That'll teach me to not thoroughly inspect my skis before and after taking them into the shop. Also motivated me to start at least hot waxing my own gear. Fortunately it didn't affect the performance of the ski, but I was none too happy with the damage.

Monroeville Willi's is decent, probably depending on what tech you talk to though. I got hooked up with a real good guy and they were very accomodating in special ordering my skiis and boots this year.
post #22 of 30
Center Ski in Plum. The best, hands down IMO.

I forgot about Fox Chapel as another option, but being from out near 7S, it's too far for me. I honestly have no idea whether they are good or not as I've never been there.

I've only dealt with Ski North at Hidden Valley once or twice. Not bad, friendly, good customer service from my limited exposure. Can't really say anything negative about them. They have never tuned or touched my equipment though.

I won't even comment on the rest of the options
post #23 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootDude
1. Yes they all suck, and I hate them
2. The Tech is a 17 year old snowboarder who does'nt what end of a ski is
I work at a shop in Cali and really what it comes down to that there are not many folks aout there willing to work for $10/hr. Thus the only people left tend to be young and inexperienced.

I am 28 and work at the shop seasonally but you won't find me making a fulltime job out of crappy seasonal pay.

Cheers!
post #24 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootDude
We actually make it a requirment that you must teach skiing or snowboarding to work our hardgoods floor. Right now there are two level threes, three level twos and a couple AASI guys on staff, of course having an indoor ski school helps (Gold Merit PSIA). I guess what I was wondering is, are there other shops out there with kind of dedication/passion.
BootDude, sounds like you guys have a good shop there. I find that many shops do hire younger, less experienced help mainly because of money. Have you found that you need to pay them more than you would pay a lesser experienced (on snow and equiptment in general) salesman?
post #25 of 30
Manus,

They do have a great shop. They take great care of me and now lots of people in my ski club. I have been to every shop in Chicago and had bad experiences at all of them except Snowcrest. Now, you could walk into one of the other shops in the area and be lucky enough to get someone who does know a thing or two about ski gear. But then again you might not. At Snowcrest, everyone does good work. I also don't see other shops from Chi-town with people on staff who do the testing for the ski mags. Snowcrest's owner did boot tests last year for Ski Press.

Lots of people want cheap ski gear and if that is what you want fine, but that is exactly what you will get. You also likely get cheap service as well. I choose to support my local shop because of the service I get. I am lucky to have such a great shop within a reasonable drive of home (If only a decent hill was as close).

The other myth I see with the average skier is that I should go out east or west to ski and then buy my ski gear at the mountain. They think that since the shop is in a ski town, the people know more about skiing than what they do back home. That is not the case. While there are some fine shops at some resorts, I find lots of seasonal help that is not very experienced in what the gear is good for, how it performs, and how it will help or hurt an individual skiers style.

That is my soap box! I will leave with this. Everyone has their favorites. Some people like one brand or another. Get what works for you, not what matches your clothes or what you have liked in the past. Do some research and seek good advice.

Ty
post #26 of 30
There is an issue with not just the abilities of the help, but the abilities of the customers. I think most of the customers around here are both image conscious and low level skiers. I suspect that the demographics in the midwest are different than real ski towns and that the percentage of advanced skiers is much lower here. The problem I run into is that the help begins to make assumptions about the customer. Just today I got 'advice' about how I shouldn't let my wife ski anything but a women's specific ski. Good thing she wasn't there.

Overall, I have been surprised at the prices locally. I almost purchased my Pocket Rockets out west after two days of demo credit. The clerk there was rude and I walked out, planning to order online. Two days later I found them at my local shop cheaper than anywhere else even if you included the credit for the demo.
post #27 of 30
Quote:
Originally Posted by BootDude
I guess what I was wondering is, are there other shops out there with kind of dedication/passion.
yeah, they exist...my store is one too. i've been there 5 season and i'm the new guy!

they seem to be fairly far and few between.

we have people who travel over 200 miles round trip for boot work, ski purchasing, etc.

we have super high margin because our customers are so loyal.
post #28 of 30
Here's my shop test.

Go into the shop and ask to try on a pair of boots. Does the fitter--

Bring out the boot.
Take the liner out of the boot.
Put the boot on your foot with the toe against the front.
Take out a flashlight and/or use a 5/8" dowell and check the space from your heel to the back of the boot and see if it is about 5/8".

If they don't do that, I wouldn't buy boots there.

Would you consider this a fair test?
post #29 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SKEEMEISTER
I work at a shop in Cali and really what it comes down to that there are not many folks aout there willing to work for $10/hr. Thus the only people left tend to be young and inexperienced.

I am 28 and work at the shop seasonally but you won't find me making a fulltime job out of crappy seasonal pay.

Cheers!
There are only two full time people at our shop, the rest work part time, nights and weekends, most have been there over ten years. These guys work for us because they enjoy the work, they don't need the pay.
Thanks for all the replys.
post #30 of 30
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by learn2turn
Here's my shop test.

Go into the shop and ask to try on a pair of boots. Does the fitter--

Bring out the boot.
Take the liner out of the boot.
Put the boot on your foot with the toe against the front.
Take out a flashlight and/or use a 5/8" dowell and check the space from your heel to the back of the boot and see if it is about 5/8".

If they don't do that, I wouldn't buy boots there.

Would you consider this a fair test?
Definatly a fair test, if they don't shell fit they should not be fitting boots.
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