This has been a very tricky subject for me as well (especially in the MTB department), as far as ski shops go, I have to say most of my local ones are otherwise decent shops that don't seem to carry what I want, especially in the accesories department. You may have seen some of my posts regarding tuning gear, other accesories are tough too, out of the four local shops I have to choose from (not including 2 lame big box ones) I couldn't find a Giro 9.9 MX with the built in speakers. So what did I do?? I went to the shop I had the least ammount of respect for, tried on a Giro 9.9 non MX (it was in the "snowboard" room), found the size I wanted and ordered the full shebang on the internet. Boots I got a place locally that knows their shi t, only a JONG or someone with a good knowledge of bootfitting and the right gear would buy boots online. Hell I used to drive 2.5 hours to get boots until I found out about this guy. I only wish they sold more than 10 pairs of skis. I got another place I go to for skis. I am very apprehensive about skis off the internet, even if I know what I want (I always do when I walk in the shop). Clothing in my area sucks, very Karbon, not quite my style (quality stuff I must say, but asthetically not for me). The "used car dealer" store in my area (see snowboard room above) has some alright clothes, but I feel guilty spending more than a hundred in there. So what do I do in that situation ?? I travel, clothes over the net (except small stuff) isn't really a good idea.
I am trying to figure out if its just me or are my local shops that out of touch. I really don't want a Descente one piece (the high end) or a stupid fleece jester hat (the low end). Especially in the way of gloves or goggles, none of them have anything that will satisfy me.
The only ski items that should be purchased over the net are tuning gear (seems like the only way to get it) or other accesories, helmets(risky), gloves, goggles (still taking a risk), movies, maybe poles although after shipping savings are negated and whatever else I'm forgetting cause I'm drunk. So I combine local shops, travel and some internet.
When it comes to my methadone to skiing, mountain biking I am very divided. I have a plethora of good shops, run by good people who have a good understanding of what myself and others want. I find this intriuging since it seems like the winter sports (skiing/snowboarding) are infinetely more popular than the velosports (moutainbiking/road biking/BMX) in my area.
I wil never ever ever buy a bike I can't ride first (unlike skis). I buy almost exclusively locally, yet for some parts I buy online. Why do I buy online?? I wanted a Surley Singleator, does anyone in my area carry this?? Nope. If I gotta order it either way, give me the cheaper price. A stem for my beater bike for 5 bucks online. Sorry going online. Last minute I decide I want a long sleeve (bright red for huinting season)jersey for the fall, goin local even if it does cost me 75 bones. Its all about balance, I grew up with small retail business owners as parents, yet I am a tech geek and a bargain hunter. Here is the one thing that my folks taught me, their store offers something the big stores (and now internet) couldn't offer. Great experience, selection and customer service. If my local shop doesn't offer those attributes, why should I buy from them?? Especially since some internet retailers offer these. They are many times no different than your local shop, many are small businesses just trying to survive, they just do it differently. Hell except for one of my local bike shops, JensonUsa (internet bike shop) delivers the absolute best customer service I have ever received. Others like Cambria Bike m\just plain suck and shouldn't receive anyones money. Sorry Skiershop.com isn't exactly walmart. Many Ebay sellers are smaller business than your average ski shop, they are just trying to make a buck and survive, even if they don't use brick and mortars. So whwat this long and drunk babbling message is gtrying to say. Don't categorize based on how and where they sell. Its all about the people behind it, how they are with service, what they sell, hbow they sell it. Its all about balance, support local, but don't screw yourself and Sports Authority (what a misnomer) and Cambria bike suck hampster balls.
Vive el customer service bitches.