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Is Sports Authority Ski Service Like Going To Walmart?

post #1 of 26
Thread Starter 
I wonder what people think of Sports Authority and perhaps other mass-market sports gear chains that have little ski service departments. Their prices are incredibly low, but do you get what you pay for?
post #2 of 26
Don't expect any form of knowledgeable service personnel.
post #3 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by xdog1
Don't expect any form of knowledgeable service personnel.
So you mean they suck, right? Kind of like going to Supercuts instead of a good barber shop or hairdresser?
post #4 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
So you mean they suck, right? Kind of like going to Supercuts instead of a good barber shop or hairdresser?
No, it means the likely hood is they won't be real knowledgable, you could get lucky.
post #5 of 26
On the flip side, even total idiots learn from the customers after a while.
It wouldn't be a total wash.

People on this board will be disappointed with most people in shops they deal with.
We're better than 97% of them, after all.
post #6 of 26

Bonni supporting a box shop?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bonni
We're better than 97% of them, after all.
Where would PSIman shop?

Not all box stores are created equal even within the same chain, but I am wickedly afraid of any advice I might get at my local Sports Fan Gear Authority.

Bonni, employee turnover, low sales volume during a limited season ('round here anyway, but last I heard was niar in VT) and management not asking the right questions rather prohibit the mechanism you speak of.

The really, really odd thing for this geographic area is that REI, a coop shop with reasonably knowledgeable sales staff and reasonable contact with customers, have stopped selling or renting snow gear (XC, alpine or snowboard) in this area. Apparently unprofitable. This is a bad thing on more than one level- given the same compensation I think dedicated, quality employees would rather work at REI than an SA. Eastern Mountain and one other outdoor specialty shop chain maintain a meager (very meager) presence in the snowsports market with no alpine gear at all.

Yet two box store all-sport emporia still push the limited market. I could hope that they effectively displace the "dedicated" ski/board shops reputed for low levels of customer service, but I don't hold my breath. The average consumer is mostly "informed" by advertising and certainly doesn't know in advance whose advice, help, or expertise to accept.

Heck, I saw 1998 skis on the rack, with no sales staff to offer a disclaimer or caveat. :
post #7 of 26

More power to co-op shops!

(continued from above)

In fact, the only real advantage to box stores I see is that their buyers are less constrained to a 'best mix' of products, and can, very occasionally, go out on a limb and stock something really out of the ordinary. Epic ski readers and posters just might be safe to shop there, you know?
(The reason I qualify my justified but acid post above is that I found my favorite french swim goggles at a box shop not 6 hours ago- yay!)
post #8 of 26

....

Great deals can be had if you know what to look for- I picked up a pair of 2000-2001ish K2 Mamba mogul skis for $50 at Sportmart. Guess no one knew what to do with them.
post #9 of 26
I'd go where the prices are best... but get my information from a more reliable source - here for instance. Even a good shop with highly skilled staff will try to sell you what they have in inventory. They may suggest the best of their inventory for your particular purpose, but if they knew you'd really be better off with something in the shop down the street, they're not too likely to tell you. I bought skis at Christmas. I walked in knowing exactly what I wanted. No problems. Funny thing though: it never occurred to me to got to Sports Authority. I went straight to a ski shop. Next time I'll look around a little more. Maybe.
post #10 of 26
Some of these big box stores will carry a high end item and be a good place to shop for, end of the season sales.You have to know what your looking for.
Few people around me are going to pay $30+ for Hot chilly underwear so by late winter there half off.
post #11 of 26
Comprex, what I MEANT was that 97% of Epicski posters know more than anyone working in a box store.

I don't like big box stores, but sometimes, just sometimes, you do have a knowledgable person working in one of them. I've learned a lot of stuff about painting from the contractors who come into my workplace, and they LOVE to talk to you about their craft while they're waiting for paint to mix.

Not everyone is an idiot.

Hello, I must be going...........skiing!
post #12 of 26
I am new to skiing, so I bought my gear from a local ski shop. But my neighbor (very avid skier) new what he was looking for and bought Vokle skis at the Sports Authority in Danbury, CT. He said he got a fantastic deal on skis and bindings there. He brought them to the local shop for mounting/setting.

If you know what you want, you can do well - but as others said, you must be the informed consumer.

-Scott
post #13 of 26
When the Sports Authority first opened, they sublet the ski departments to "quality" retailers, like the Philly stores were run by Langehorne SKi & Sport. After a couple of years, they took the departments, in house. So instead of having stgaffing who knew what they knew, they got some one who was scheduled in hunting and fishing one week and skis the next. As of late, I don't think I would expect much help when I went in there.
post #14 of 26
it's hit or miss.

same with REI. I worked the College Park MD REI in 91-93, sold ski stuff part time. some of the other ski shop people weren't as well trained... I'd been trained at Ski Center in Wash DC for 6 seasons.
post #15 of 26

College Park redux

Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
it's hit or miss.

same with REI. I worked the College Park MD REI in 91-93, sold ski stuff part time. some of the other ski shop people weren't as well trained... I'd been trained at Ski Center in Wash DC for 6 seasons.
Hey Gonz,

I grew up near CP-bought a few things at the Ski Center (but mostly Ski Chalet in Arlington)-were you in school when you were there? Went to UM in CP many years earlier. The person I remember most at Ski Center. was Brian the bootfitter.-outstanding technician and human being. During your tenure in CP I was in wonderful Motown courtesy of GM.
post #16 of 26
I was in the MEES Grad program at Univ MD while I worked at REI. I grew up in Hillandale (Silver Spring), near Univ MD.

Sounds like you're talking about Brian Eardley, a fine skier, boot tech, ski salesman, music lover, political comedian and car lover. He posts in here sometimes as "erdz". I attribute most of my love of skiing and its technical aspects to knowing Brian and learning from him.
post #17 of 26
Thread Starter 

It's service, not gear, I'm wondering about

Thanks for all the interesting posts, but I was originally more curious about people's impressions of service departments, rather than the gear side, at Sports Authority (and places like that, if that's not generalizing too much). The thing I like about SA are the low prices -- the prices for me make the difference sometimes between being able to ski and not. But I also feel a little guilty going to SA because I want to support the little, local mom-and-pops. The fact that SA's board director Martin Hanaka, based in Florida, gave $7500 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee this year is kind of scary; I don't want to support a shop that treats its workers like Walmart or pays them crap wages. I can't imagine a little local ski shop throwing big money at the GOP!
post #18 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
...I can't imagine a little local ski shop throwing big money at the GOP!
Can you imagine thousands of little shops throwing lots of smaller contributions at the GOP?! I can. Because it just happened.

A favorite saying of small shop owners goes something like:

- Top quality
- Fast service
- Low price

Choose any two.

Certainly sounds reasonable to me. And highlights the constraints a lot of small shops face. That's why big box stores like Wal-Mart and Sports Authority are called "category killers." They house many categories of product and, by doing so, take advantage of economies of scale the smaller shops cannot as well as creating for themselves massive buying power.

Back to the three choices above, you can easily see where the big-box retailer is all about one of the choices: Low price.

The small shops have lots of competitive advantages, too. I generally buy from them.
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
Interesting, thanks Harvard. I love that little adage you quoted and will certainly remember it for a long time. I think my expectations about shops in general are often simply unreasonable. And greetings from your old nemesis down the road, in New Haven ... ever make it up for The Game?
post #20 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by HarvardTiger
- Top quality
- Fast service
- Low price
The saying that been around forever is:

Good, fast and cheap.... Pick any two. It's universal - any industry, not just little shops. This is a notorious saying in the world of software engineers (I'm not one, but I work around them), because customers always want all three, and it's not possible.
post #21 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzostrike
I was in the MEES Grad program at Univ MD while I worked at REI. I grew up in Hillandale (Silver Spring), near Univ MD.

Sounds like you're talking about Brian Eardley, a fine skier, boot tech, ski salesman, music lover, political comedian and car lover. He posts in here sometimes as "erdz". I attribute most of my love of skiing and its technical aspects to knowing Brian and learning from him.
Couldn't remember his last name-he is all you say and more.
post #22 of 26

Old Eli

A little off-topic by me...

Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
Interesting, thanks Harvard. I love that little adage you quoted and will certainly remember it for a long time. I think my expectations about shops in general are often simply unreasonable. And greetings from your old nemesis down the road, in New Haven ... ever make it up for The Game?
Haven't made it up there for the Y game since leaving Cambridge. I went to Auburn undergrad; so, I typically get to two or three of their games each year. As you might imagine, it's quite a big deal! (Though I'm not the rabid football fan...as long as we BEAT BAMA!).

I rowed for the B-school and typically tend to make it up for the Head of the Charles or The Race in June instead of football.

This year, however, I was invited to a tennis event at H (my wife and I send a few dollars to the tennis team each year) the same weeked as the Yale game...and the same weekend as the Head of the Charles. Couldn't make the trip. Darn.

As for shops, I'm a fairly price conscious shopper. But I'll spend a few dollars more to buy from a shop where I know I can talk and get a little extra insight or help. To me, it add to the wonderful skiing experience. But there is a limit to how much I'll pay for that.

Right now I am considering a pair of skis that I can buy online for $419 + $30 shipping. My "local" shop (in Atlanta!) has the exact ski priced at $599. That's a $150 swing! I'd buy 'em in a heatbeat from the shop if they were priced at, say $499 or maybe up to $529. Just haven't decided yet.

Take care...and I hope you are have a great new year!

BTW - what do you teach?

- HT
post #23 of 26

Rowing

Quote:
Originally Posted by wbroun
...I'm going off topic, but it's interesting to hear about the B school rowers. I didn't realize they had 'em at the grad level. My students here who row are worked incredibly hard by their coaches -- poor kids, I worry about them. I have a close friend who went to the B school at Harv. years ago, and of course there's our president. The School of Management at Yale, as you probably know, is fairly idiosyncratic. Sounds like you've got the best of both worlds, firm southern roots with a bit of New England clarity up top! Happy new year!
Rowing at the grad level is a club sport. Not as intense as the varsity crews (I almost typed "varsity guys" but realized that the gals rowing out of Weld Boathouse, where we were based, work as hard as they H guys). Our training clicked up a few notches when it came close to the B-school championships races. And I remember SOM well--competitive on the water as well as in the bars!

The southern roots run deep. The family was shocked that I would consider going to school "up there." But I learned a lot. And myths were broken, as well as conformed. It's too bad there are so many ignorant views about Ivy schools.

W? He is a Yalie, too!

(Sorry, Bears, for the off-topic with my Yale pal...)
post #24 of 26

Beware when buying ski equipment at Sports Authority!

Please be careful when buying gear from Sports Authority. While shopping around for my new pair of Salomon 1080's I found myself in the Sports Authority ski section. They had a pair of last year's 1080's priced below the local ski shops. I thought I had found a great deal. BUT upon closer inspection, I realized that the ski was not actually a 1080. Its topsheet was almost exactly the same as last year's 1080, except it did not say 1080 or Teneighty on it. It said something like 460 or some other random number.
Sports Authority appears to be selling some sort of "knock-offs" or rebadged factory rejects. Anyone else notice this?
post #25 of 26
oh my the insular Ivies are setting about their quiet bragging on educational superiority.
post #26 of 26
We now have Galyan's at the Liberty Tree Mall area north of Boston and they carry skis and stuff but their staff is not too good.

Just in that one mall plaza you have Galyan's, Sports Authority, Summit Ski and Snowboard, and Ski Market up the road.
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