what's crazy is that last season i had several shops point me to other shops.
for example, i went to get fitted for boots at Tahoe Boot N Bike Works in the Heavenly Gondola Village. I didn't have an appointment, so I patiently waited around for 45 minutes until the owner was available for a consultation. In the meantime he had one of his other employees size me and come up with some recomendations. Sadly, they didn't have any of the boots they felt would be the best fit for my feet in my size. They also said that they probably wouldn't be getting another shipment in any time soon. So they wrote down the size and several recommendations of boots and then gave me some alternate shops to go to. I ended up at another shop where I bought boots. The next day I returned to TBNBW to demo some Elan skis and mentioned that I was experiencing some slippage in the right boot. They inserted a heel lifter free of charge.
Another cool experience I had was chatting online with the owner of Porter's in Truckee/Tahoe City. I had emailed the shop inquiring about demo skis and whether or not they had certain models of Line and Armada and Ninth Ward skis available for demo and sale. I eventually quoted them a price for the Armada AR5 that I had found online and the owner said that unfortuneately he couldn't meet that price. Then he asked if the price I was quoting was from the patio and ski shop in Sacramento (Sierra Jim's shop, btw). When I replied "Yes" he promplty urged me to buy the skis from Jim (he confessed that they were friends and he'd rather I buy the skis from them and get a good deal).
Maybe there's some unspoken comraderie between the long time shop owners in Tahoe, I don't know, but my experiences with these two shops was great, especially considering that I was willing to make purchases from them, but ended up being pointed to another store.
i don't know about you, but i think it's great customer service when the shop owner is trying to get you the best deal, regardless of whether it's at their store or a competitors. Needless to say, I totally tell people about both Porter's and Tahoe Boot N Bike Works.