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The internet and ski shops. Where do you buy your gear? - Page 5

post #121 of 142
I agree that you should buy boots from a shop. I couldnt believe the deals I got on Ebay for skis and bindings. SpeedMachine 14's with bindings NEW $330 delivered. I also bought SpeedMachine 12's for $240 delivered with very slight use. I went and tried on boots at a bunch of different shops and was saddened that I knew more about the products then the shop employees. I finally found a shop that had great customer service were extremely knowledgable but they hardly gave any discount and ultimately didnt have my size or brand that I preferred from a previous shop. I ended up buying them off of Ebay as well since I honestly had no luck at any of the shops.

The most disheartening experience though has been the EXTREMELY poor customer service from the manufactures themselves. You cannot find hardly any information on their products and they give you a bunch of crap if you ask about models they do not import! How in the world am I supposed to know whether or not a product is imported for the US market if they dont have websites that are worth a crap!

Ultimately, I am very happy with Ebay and will continue to purchase there. I just wish that most of the people that use Ebay have some common sense when bidding such as waiting until the last possible minute to bid! Why continue to drive up the price 1 week before the end of an auction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have some common sense and save yourself some money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Joe

Joe
post #122 of 142
I was in a Chicks Sporting Goods over the weekend. (SoCal Chain) They started putting all there ski equipment on sale. Saw a pair of K2 First Luvs, that I thought about getting for my wife. Sale price was close to Ebays pricing, but not close enough, ie taxes etc...

I figured they needed to get rid of all this inventory to make room for all the spring and summer stuff, so I ask the guys working that department when they planned on having the blow out sale. There responce. This is it. I said, are you serious. They said yup, when we can't sell it we store it in the back until next season and drag it out again at a discounted price, go figure.

This is got to be the dumbiest bz. decision I have ever heard. Lets store old inventory in the back room, in hopes we can sell it next season, at a discounted price. Why not just discount it now and not store it.

Now on another note. I discovered that Sports Chalet in SoCal sends all there Ski Inventory to one of there new stores and heavily discounts it. It least they did last year so I am assuming they will do it again this year. I just happened to walk in this particular store last summer because I had some time to kill and ended up walking out with some nice North Face and Spyder Jackets and pants for my wife and I at almost 75% off the retail. At least they got it right.
post #123 of 142
You can get Line Prophet 130's from a few shops online for $400 USD right now, I see these skis in various local retailers for $800-900+ CDN. I'm sure if you bought them with bindings you could probably get 100-200 off the package, but still paying over $1,000.

I won an auction on a pair of Line Prophet 100's for 300 USD, don't even really want them that much but that is so cheap I may as well take em and use them for powder days.

Sorry B&M but you have to compete on service, you can't guilt customers into paying more for the same product.
post #124 of 142

For wax and tuning equipment...

I run a family Internet business www.racewax.com

In the off season I will set up an exclusive web site with discounts for EpicSki members. As soon as it is up I will announce it here.

In the mean time I will try to give you some sort of discount or refund if you identify yourself as being a member. My mark up on my products is very low so I can't discount everything or offer a flat rate, but I will try to give you something back. It will depend on what and how much you buy per order. Please don't write about specific items on my site at the moment, just trust that I will do my best. Next Fall the discount site will clearly spell it out.

Thanks.
post #125 of 142

Some great posts!

Dawgcatching, Matt, and Faber, all great points.

Dawgcatching, as a B&M owner and an internet retailer, has a great point of view and understands his strengths and weaknesses. The "great product, great service, or great price - pick two" approach successfully classifies 90% of customers who would walk through his door.

As everyone is discussing, the reality of being in business today is competing with online merchants, whose operating costs are usually far lower, and sometimes, whose buying power can allow additional discounting that B&M stores can't match. This is, of course, speaking generally, and isn't meant to be industry-specific.

We live in America, it's capitalism people, and the market forces apply. There isn't any reason that people shouldn't seek the best price possible in our economy with all of the access to different purchase points. The issue comes with what level of expectation people attach to these extremely low-margin purchases, what knowledge they have about the prodcut itself, and what kind of service they're getting.

If I know what product I need, or at least have narrowed it down to a few choices and I don't need the service of a B&M, why should I buy from one? Just to be nice? Just to lose some of my well-earned money?

Ski shops balance selling lower margin hardgoods that have associated distribution costs with being in the apparel industry, where profit is higher. In a sense, it's a split business, even though for the customer, the purchases are often joined.

For retail outlets who compete with online merchants but offer necessary in-store services (ski shop binding mounting/adjustments/waxing or bike shop component installation/tune-ups/etc...), they can adjust these service prices accordingly. I don't have a problem paying $10 or $15 more for services attached to hardgoods "bindings I purchased elsewhere" when many B&M stores lose lots of sales to online brokers. Bike shops should adopt this method and charge $200 instead of $180 for a complete build. I'd pay it, and with the money saved from buying $1800 worth of bike online that would've sold for $3000 in-store, be happy throwing a bit of change the local guy's way.

The bitter attitude of business owners due to loss of sales because of the inability to compete is not my problem. It's theirs. They should develop a new business plan relevant to today's world instead of throwing in the towel. Yes, it's costly, it's extremely time-consuming, but The BOTTOM LINE of business is to MAKE MONEY, lots of people like to dance around the topic - if owners didn't make money, they wouldn't be in it. If you can't compete on price, you're doing something wrong, you're in the wrong industry, or you should look elsewhere.

People like Dawgcatching in a low-markup industry like skis do well (enough) because they provide additional incentives to buy from them while remaining as competitive as possible on price.

The future is B&M stores all on the internet and competing with themselves at the virtual AND local levels while understanding the utility of their product. If your product can essentially be bought anywhere, it's relatively low utility, and your ability as a seller of that product is diminished by that fact. The company I used to work for is private, online-only, worth $3-4 billion, and strives to find high-utility, high-cost products that others don't carry. If you're the only Stockli dealer around, build your business around the brand.

It's not hard to set up a website, and while it requires initial investment and a vast change of a B&M's business model, it's will become more and more required as time marches on. It's too easy to look elsewhere.

As far as my buying experience, all of the ski and bike shops I have bought from offer local and online purchases - Basin Ski, Peak Performance, and Aspen East in Vermont, Colorado Ski and Golf (a member of the www.geardirect.com consortium) in Denver, and Woodland Sports (www.skidealer.com) in Los Angeles, CambriaBike www.cambriabike.com, and Superblow (www.supergo.com, now Performance/Nashbar).They have learned to balance the reality of a local and an online market with great aplomb. Supergo, for one, started as one small store in the late '70's. The owner was savvy enough to start his own line of bikes taking advantage of low overseas costs, built his business around his own brand, and expanded relatively aggressively but into strong local markets. He sold to JP Morgan for $60 million in 2001, not even 30 years later. His children attended IvyLeage institutions. He chose price and product - Supergo isn't known for service - but this was something people would accept either in-store and definitely on the successful website. Other retailers can provide all three. B&M and internet sales can be done, and successfully.

B&M stores will always have the advantage and opportunity of offering SERVICE when it's attached to necessary goods (boots, clothing fit?) and through this valued interaction, at least have the opportunity to increase sales in other areas (higher-priced but lower margin goods like skis or bikes). And, as a tangent, two complaints you see/hear about all over the place that I'm sick and tired of:

1) * My service experience at my B&M was horrible * OWNERS, stop hiring teenagers who aren't knowledgable. You probably have a choice, and you're blowing you opportunity at driving sales and getting new customers. Additionally, every employee needs to be sat down, made sure of his/her product expertise even if they haven't used everything on the floor, professionalism in dealing with the customer, and ability to close the sale when the opportunity presents itself. Stop nickel and diming your customers. If a customer asks, "can you throw in a waterbottle if I buy this from you," say yes. Rarely will they launch into "can you swap out my crankset/seatpost/handlebar for the newest carbon fiber wunderkind as well?" Www.helenscycles.com taught me this in high schools at my first job, and they are now a successful regional business in the bike industry. They have built their business around Cannondale, and you see their jerseys and store-specific Cannondale paint schemes all over Southern California. CONSUMERS, stop shopping at large chain sporting goods stores for products that require more sales knowledge than looking on the outside of the box and expect appropriate service.

This last point naturally brings up a quick discussion of what pricing is or isn't acceptable when not accompanied by service. Is 10% difference enough? How about 20%? Would you buy $850 skis for $350 if you "weren't quite sure" from a mass merchant or go in to B&M and pay $400, all but ensuring continued service in the future. How about $20 instead of $15 to a mom and pop bookstore who will order you something they don't have at the top of a hat...The medium I am proposing that ski retailers have to move into is also the source of their demise. Dawgcatching, unforutnately, can offer lots of information on this forum, but not close the sale (just a side-thought).

2) * I work in retail and I hate my life, have to deal with bitchy, uninformed, price-only customers * It is your choice in this country to work where you do - you balance the freedom of working in an industry you love, possibly in a part of the country/ski mountain you love, getting discounts on the gear you like, having more free time to take advantage of that gear than people who work in salaried positions, and to live less stressfully with not making much money. It's your life decision and no one forces you to work at a low-paying job (unless you are 15). You make your future. If you don't like the present, change it, but realize this change is often incremental. I'm not trying to preach (I'm a student again).

* * *

Until B&M's can find a way to either differentiate themselves enough in the market, get online, or remain in some other way competitive, they will be toughing it out in an industry linked to one season of the year. If you aren't using all of the sales channels possible, as a business owner, there is more that can be done.

But plenty of owners have figured out how to do it. It takes a lot of things to move online, the most worrisome (or impossible) of which is money. But it doesn't have to adhere to the traditional model of building a warehouse, having a phone center of tech support for online purchases, and running your B&M separately.

Dawgcatching, for one, has found this forum while using his B&M store as his "warehouse" - reaching online customers while minimizing his costs (really the time he spends typing away and offering great advice on products he knows about), and surviving in the biz.

There's plenty more at work, I'm not an industry expert, just my jumbled thoughts this morning.
post #126 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by watersurgeon

Now on another note. I discovered that Sports Chalet in SoCal sends all there Ski Inventory to one of there new stores and heavily discounts it. It least they did last year so I am assuming they will do it again this year. I just happened to walk in this particular store last summer because I had some time to kill and ended up walking out with some nice North Face and Spyder Jackets and pants for my wife and I at almost 75% off the retail. At least they got it right.
This is true! I didn't know either - is it still Huntington Beach? This is a mass merchant who moves some their seasonal merchandise to one store as a "blowout location." Good decision!
post #127 of 142
I know the Sports Chalet store in Tempe/Mesa/Chandler not sure which has Apache Blackhawks the same as the Apache X for $200. What I gathered from them they chose a couple of products to heavily discount at each newer store. Not all products go to one store but they spread the blowout prices to various stores. You just have to get lucky and hit the right store.
post #128 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by LAXtoDartmouth
Dawgcatching, Matt, and Faber, all great points.

Dawgcatching, as a B&M owner and an internet retailer, has a great point of view and understands his strengths and weaknesses. The "great product, great service, or great price - pick two" approach successfully classifies 90% of customers who would walk through his door.
This post is pretty much bang on picture of reality. Very well written.
post #129 of 142
LaxToDartmouth:

thanks for the fantastic post on market forces, merchandising, competition, business models, human behavior, and buying-selling psychology. i agree with you completely. if you havn't already done so, you should/could write a book on the subject.

you're back at school?...how 'bout a thesis or dissertation that turns into a book? like maybe applying darwinian theory to businesses: businesses must adjust to market forces and those that do so most successfully will be rewarded by surviving the natural selection process. businesses with the most successful/flexible/creative responses to ever-changing market pressures and consumer needs are the ones that continue to survive and prosper through evolution....this is survival of the fittest applied to capitalism. obviously, this model applies equally to ski goods, bikes, and widgets.

anyway, thank you for a well-reasoned and -written post.

and good luck in school.

keith
memphis
post #130 of 142
I buy from whoever has the lowest price. The only time I buy expernsive merchandise from brick and mortar stores is when the purchase requires fitting or specialization.

The local shops have the highest prices so I usually tend to stay away from them - whether skis or electronics etc. Today you can find just about anything online and save money on the sale as well as taxes. Brick and mortar stores charge rediculously high prices for goods that can be found at 20% less online. Retail is for suckers.

Take the posts by dawgcatching who I take it owns a ski shop. Why should I walk into a local store and buy a pair of skis for $690 right when he was offering the same ski for online purchase for only $420(something like that)?

The sales tax part is the biggest thing though. The state already gets enough of my money. So buying online saves you from getting raped by the store as well as the government.

When local stores offer prices that are competitive with online stores I will buy from them. Until then I refuse to purchase from them unless neccesary. For me it's all about the dollar. The stores are out to make a profit but so am I.
post #131 of 142
A great spot to get product is at www.actionsportsoutlets.com
post #132 of 142
A great spot to get product is at www.username.com

---------------------------------------------------

wow, with your username, we never would have guessed!
post #133 of 142
www.aspeneast.com got a pair of volkl karma's 419 + 35 for overnight shipping. Shipped the day i purchased got them the very next day. Customer service was great. One call answered every question i had. If their sales arn't good enough then they have older models brand new for incredible prices.
post #134 of 142

My recent experience

When both my preferred shop and Fischer were sold out of the race skis that I wanted in my size about a month ago, I went online and found the skis from a reputable on-line dealer. When the skis arrived, I immediately noticed that the bindings did not look as though they were mounted correctly as they were not centered on the plates. I was not sure if they were mounted correctly as they looked far enough off to me that I was surprised that they would have been shipped that way.
Since I had initially tried to buy the skis through my dealer,I felt comfortable bringing them to him to verify the situation. He determined that the plates were not centered properly. I then called the on-line dealer and shipped my skis back. I requested that they only send me skis and not bindings as I would purchase bindings from my dealer as he had become involved and spent some time looking at the skis, removing and checking the binding mount, etc. This was my decision and not suggested by my dealer. Even if he charged me more for the bindings, I thought that his time and assistance should be rewarded.
When I received the replacement skis, I dropped them off and picked them up the next day. At no time, did I ask the cost of the bindings. The funny thing was that my shop charged me $75 LESS than the on-line shop charged for the same bindings. True, I have bought several pairs of skis, boots, etc. from my local shop and sent friends there. The point is that they have always treated my friends and I well and in appreciation for my business, they have responded with excellent service and prices. I am not sure how typical my on-line experience was, but it was certainly not convenient to have my purchase checked by my dealer, to re-box the skis, mail them, and wait for their replacements to arrive. I could cite many more examples as to ways in which my shop has saved me time and money, but it sounds as though most people here have their preferred sources. In my case, I am fortunate to have a shop 30 minutes from my house which provides me with not only good prices, but a sense of confidence with each purchase.
post #135 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by SkyHarborCowboy
The most disheartening experience though has been the EXTREMELY poor customer service from the manufactures themselves. You cannot find hardly any information on their products and they give you a bunch of crap if you ask about models they do not import! How in the world am I supposed to know whether or not a product is imported for the US market if they dont have websites that are worth a crap!
I have recently had a very positive experience with Nordica "factory" support. I called their office in New Hampshire and said I had a technical question on boots. I got a guy named Mike Sabia. He was happy to talk, answer my questions, make recommendations, and so on. I have followed up with him twice since and he has remained happy to help.

Note that I have no relation to anyoen there and no commercial interest. Just a satisfied customer!
post #136 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by quickk9
...In my case, I am fortunate to have a shop 30 minutes from my house which provides me with not only good prices, but a sense of confidence with each purchase.
what's your local shop, quick?
post #137 of 142

Online, almost always.

I buy most needs online. I'm raising a family (3kids) of mountain bike and road racing,Hockey and Lacrosse playing,Snowboarding, and cross country ski racing, downhill skiers. We do alot!! and hopefully it will end up being a good investment in them.(Bail is expensive). mostly a one income family. I have to try and pay the least amount possible for our gear.
I save thousands buying online .Bikes, shoes,downhill skis,bicycle parts etc. I also pride myself in being capable and needing very little support from a shop. I have a friend that owns a bike and board shop and always try to get stuff I can from him but still many times I can save a ton online.Hockey and Lacrosse gear is usually purchased locally because in Canada the market is more active and competitive. I am also a member of MEC an outdoor gear coop retailer that has helpful, knowledgable staff. I research online and large impersonal chain stores (most often more knowledgable than sales staff) decide sizes and pull the trigger online. This week I saved $400.00 CAD on my 2005 M:EX over the best possible local deal and that was tax and shipping included.
I'll mount them myself with info from this forum and wax them myself after being immersed in xc ski culture for the last 15 years. I enjoy being a good customer when it's a win/win situation but we all have to look after our own as we see fit. Does a online retailer deserve any less success with his business venture??
post #138 of 142

online vs. local shop

I realize that I am repeating much of what has been said above but here's my 2 cents:

Without question buy your boots at a reputable shop with certified bootfitters and a guaranteed fit program. Your boots are your most important peice of equipment.

Supporting your local shops is great as long as they have what you're looking for. In my experience unless you're in a resort you don't have the product offerings that you may need. For example if you're in Ohio the likelihood of your local shop carrying many all mountain skis or if they do they don't have much.

Pricing online can be really good - in fact often better than your local shop. I find the best time to look online is for the sold out, or hard to find items. Perfect example is the Rossignol B2 - Strato 102 Limited Edition. They're only available at a couple shops based in Whistler. Or the early releases of the next season's equipment. These are things you find online as most local shops will switch season before these are available.
post #139 of 142
I'm vaguely thinking about a soft shell jacket, but only if it's
a) nice, and
b) cheap.
There's some nice ones in Gart's, but they aren't cheap enough, yet.
Can't find any online that satisfy both criteria either. When there are, I might buy one. Unless the ones in the local Gart's become attractively cheap.

Online is just another way of buying stuff. You can't try it on, or fondle it, or visit it and eye it, so it has to have other ways of attracting you.
post #140 of 142
Thread Starter 
It is funny, I was 90/10 net buying until this year. My recent ski purchases were: K2 One Luv's w/ bindings, Volkl Attiva AC2's w/ bindings, Volant FB's, and Volkl 724 Pro's, all were purchased at B&M's. I also came close to buying some AC4's at another B&M. There are deals out there to be had. It is just a matter of knowing what the deal is and what your time is worth.

Ski clothing, I will not buy on-line. Infact I hate even looking in the manfacturers design catalog. I need to see how it fits. Plus I am usually happy with leftover styles too.
post #141 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese
It is funny, I was 90/10 net buying until this year. My recent ski purchases were: K2 One Luv's w/ bindings, Volkl Attiva AC2's w/ bindings, Volant FB's, and Volkl 724 Pro's, all were purchased at B&M's. I also came close to buying some AC4's at another B&M. There are deals out there to be had. It is just a matter of knowing what the deal is and what your time is worth.

Ski clothing, I will not buy on-line. Infact I hate even looking in the manfacturers design catalog. I need to see how it fits. Plus I am usually happy with leftover styles too.
Something tells me that you will buy anything, any time, at any source, as long as its a......BARGAIN!
post #142 of 142
Quote:
Originally Posted by skidiver
what's your local shop, quick?
I deal with Ken Jones in Manchester. There is a Ken Jones in Nashua, and although they are also informative, they are separate shops. For the most part, I deal with Todd who is the manager in Manchester. I also deal with Lonnie who is also very helpful for skis and Dean who is recommended when it comes to boot fitting. Actually, there isn't an uninformed person there. True, I have bought a lot of stuff from them, but it isn't because I throw money away, I'm actually a good consumer (and my friends agree). However, they are the only place that I can order something and not ask the price. I just know that I am getting a fair deal. I have sent friends there and they have always been happy about the price and service.
My girlfriend has also been been impressed with them. She has no interest in the gear, that's NO interest, but on a recent ski trip, she did say, "Another great weekend provided by Ken Jones." What she meant was that all of her equipment finally met her (minimalist) needs. (Her previous skis recommmended by a nationwide company were 30cm too long for her.)
So yes, I do support my local shop. They provide me with excellent prices and information. Although I have many hobbies and interests, it is nice to have a place where you can enjoy an interest and know that you can have support and good prices. I can honestly say that I have never made a bad purchase at Ken Jones. Previously, I have purchased a few things on-line that I wish I had been advised against! So that is why I prefer to visit my local shop. They know who I am, I can see what I am buying, and I get competitive prices. I really can't ask for more.
This is, however, a very interesting thread that I hope more people follow.
BTW, skidiver, if you do decide to go to Ken Jones, you can mention my name - Joseph with the Fischer skis.
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