A few thoughts:
- I don't know the details (though some combination of the possibilities mentioned by dawgcatching sound plausible), but I was under the impression that Cupolo's was getting the skis from somewhere other than the usual channels. Wasn't there discussion here, back and forth, about the usual distributors being upset with Cupolo's?
- The whole topic of how ski equipment is sold is sort of interesting. Unlike a lot of goods, it's mostly still on the old model of brick-and-mortar retailers -- and mostly smaller, specialty retailers. So far as I can tell, a large part of the customers are only comfortable buying skis from a ski shop, whether it's because of the sales advice, mounting/servicing expertise, convenience or whatever. That being the case, a distributor has a pretty heavy incentive not to irritate the ski shops ... which is exactly what happens when someone walks in to the store and says, "I saw these online for half that price." If that happens enough, the next thing that happens is that brand isn't carried by the store anymore.
- Whether it's a good thing for old-fashioned ski shops to survive is another question. It would certainly become a lot more difficult for them to do so if there were lots of online retailing of skis. The cost structure is just too radically different (rent, utilities, salespeople, etc., all to sell not that many skis). I kind of lean toward the existence of ski shops being a good thing. Apparently, from other comments, there are some bad ski shops. But it seems to me there are good ones, too.
- Somewhat ironic, I think: for the people who really are in favor of lots of online ski-equipment distirbution, Cupolo was your enemy. He did a lot more to hurt online distribution than to help it. It's easy to tell from reading posts here that his service was terrible. The fact that there are quite a few people who can say, "I got a good deal, and had no problems," is beside the point. If you're a decent businessman everyone is supposed to say that (oh, okay, 99% of the customers). Cupolo may well have been giving a good experience in, say, 80% of the purchases. But that's just pathetically bad. Aside from making mistakes, he dealt with them badly.
There's nothing inherently even difficult about online sales. Lots of us regularly buy various ancillary products from online retailers, like racewax.com, Artech, Tognar, Reliable Racing Supply, etc. If anyone's having unusual problems with them, it's escaped my attention.