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SKI SHOP SALES CLERKS

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Just wondering what your opinion is of many of the sales clerks we find in the ski business. In my experience in the better ski shops, the staff are usually very knowledgeable, but in the more department type store, many of the members of the staff have really no idea what they are doing and are often taught by another employee who hasn't got much experience in what is the right or best ski for a person either.

I have found that often, just because a person is not an "expert or advanced" skier, the staff puts the customer on too soft a ski for them. Ultimately, I feel the customer is being done a disservice.

What is your opinion or experience in this regard.
post #2 of 24
This is the case with any sport. For example, there are plenty of cycling stores where the sales folks have very little knowledge about the products they are selling.

Getting good service from knowledgeable staff in a specialty shop usually comes after one gets a tip from others about where to go.

The gear/sales prolblems in skiing are magnified as boot fitting is such an important part of the equation and finding experience in this area can be hard if you just shop blindly. Shopping for skis is relatively easy in comparison.

Usually, I have found the opposite of your experience to be true. The really bad shops tend to push the most expensive skis on everyone, regardless of what they want or need: "Sure you want a ski that is easy going and fun, but why not get a ski you can grow into? Here's an Atomic B5. This ski is great - real fun and turns on a dime !"
post #3 of 24
Hi FF,
Generally you will find the better trained sales clerks at specialty shops. The staff is usually more experienced. There are less rookies. However, there are some exceptions though.

I used to manage a ski department in a chain store. I was lucky to have the same guys working for me year after year (mostly college kids). But when one left to move to other things, it was difficult to find a replacement.

It is harder to find good help nowadays. The hardest part for me was finding someone who understood the basic concepts and could explain them coherently. From there, it was easy to expand that knowledge base. Also every year my pool of qualified applicants got smaller. There wasn't a shortage on the snowboard side though.

Dennis
post #4 of 24
I think most of them are too damn moody...
post #5 of 24
We (the good shop people) are a shirinking breed for sure. Things like the internet are hurting us and fewer and fewer people are putting any value to good service. If you have a good shop near you, please try and support it when you can.
post #6 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by axebiker View Post
I think most of them are too damn moody...
x2.
post #7 of 24
The staff is often a product of their comp package. Department stores are going to have mimimum wage folks that just graduated from fast food jobs more often than not. They are managed by people with more of a retail background than experience in any particular specialty because there is a lot of turnover in retail. The reps train them best they can to sell their products so when you enter a store you are going to get told whatever the reps have told the staff. Some places offer what we used to call "PMs" or push money that vendors pay for pusing their products in the form of commissions and/or credtis towards gear/ I sure pusded the brands and products with the best PMs when I worked in retail. In a specialty ski shop you are much more likely to find folks that actually LOVE skiing. I'm not familiar with the comp plans there.
post #8 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by axebiker View Post
I think most of them are too damn hung over...
FTFY

More to the point of the OP, I agree that there is a trend in certain places to put people on skis that are simply too short and too soft. It is particularly egregious in the East. That said, all I can really do is answer your questions, and since I happen to like gear, I'll probably be pretty well informed. The appropriateness for you of whatever I lead you towards has an awful lot to do with what you have to say.
post #9 of 24
We used to have comp plans here, but not really any more. We still get deals but not like it used to be. The companies just cannot afford it. Chain stores are just outlets for gear, in general they do not have anyone who is actually vested in the ski industry. For me, it is all I have ever known, I have always had the NEED to be in the ski industry in some way.
post #10 of 24
Its generally a good rule of thumb to say if they don't ski themselves then you probably shouldn't buy skis from them
post #11 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by FlipFlop View Post
I have found that often, just because a person is not an "expert or advanced" skier, the staff puts the customer on too soft a ski for them. Ultimately, I feel the customer is being done a disservice.
I think that the bigger problem is that the customer who is new to skiing comes in with a fixed price point. They are new to skiing and have a fixed budget. They were at the price point where you either got a ski that was stiff to flex so that it had torsional stiffness but wouldn't turn or it was soft either way. They needed to spend a bit more to get something that could be stiff torsionally but still be soft enough to turn. They buy a ski that meets their price point, but they can't ski it. It's like buying some cotton, waffle pattern thermal underwear at your local department store and complaining that you are too cold to ski. My local ski shops have saved me and my friends a bunch of money. It's the department store ski chains that give the bad name.
post #12 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by northwestnumber1 View Post
Its generally a good rule of thumb to say if they don't ski themselves then you probably shouldn't buy skis from them
That's the first question the customer should ask the sales person, the next is: for how long?
post #13 of 24
People who are lazy enough to get their ski equipment from a department type sports store deserve what they get.

Most of the margin between wholesale and retail for the proper store represents the real costs of retaining and training staff who know what they are doing and can offer the right (morally correct) advice knowing that selling less now which is right for the customer may well build a loyal customer who will spend more as they get better or enjoy their sport more.

Always buy local based on good references and support the movement to encourage good service. Good ski shops are rare, becoming more rare and deserve support.
post #14 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by quickk9 View Post
...some cotton, waffle pattern thermal underwear at your local department store and complaining that you are too cold to ski.
HEY NOW!!! Don't be hatin' on my threads...








post #15 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew R View Post
People who are lazy enough to get their ski equipment from a department type sports store deserve what they get.
Be carfeul with this statement. Many of these "lazy people" just don't know any better. Rental shops (at least in the midwest) aren't known for their terrific recommendations unless you happen to be renting high performance gear that's often supplied by a seperate store otherwise unconnected to the resort.

BTW - I've gotten some decent gear at these department stores when they sell closeouts/overstocks from a season or so back. They're not all bad if you know what you're doing.
post #16 of 24
Just do the right thing and support your local buisnesses because in the end it all comes full circle without the local companies the city simply would not survive.
post #17 of 24

department store skiing

I see the point of people not knowing what they are talking about in alot of the bigger chain stores, but there are exceptions in many cases. I work at a "chain-type" store which sells skis and we have a few people who know alot and that have been skiing since the last ice age and they can tell you everything you need to know about any kind of skiing. Yes there are way more people who don't know but not all of us are idiots. I guess it all depends on what store you go into and who is on staff. In our shop we get no extra $ no commission or any reward for selling anything so most of us have the goal to genuinly help people find skis and get into the sport.
post #18 of 24
I have noticed an uplifting trend in ski sales clerks who don't know what they are talking about. Instead of babbling on giving faulty advice, many more of them are now saying "I'll get so and so, he is the one who knows more about those skis." or "I'm sorry I'm not sure, Fred could tell you for sure, but he's off today. He'll be in..."
post #19 of 24
From what I have seen in this region, the bulk of the sales staff leaves much to be desired. Many are just kids or minimum-wage types, and others are so focused on one part of skiing (like the park) that they can't relate to other types of skiers. Unfortunately, there is little money involved in working at a shop, so people who are in the industry who know their stuff and are willing to eke out a living are usually owners and managers. If you know whom to deal with, you may get service, but just walking into a random store is likely to leave you a bit disappointed with the service.

But, I cannot emphasize this enough, and it is the most important point: CUSTOMERS are no longer willing to pay for SERVICE in this country. Skis end up being a commodity, and people go to the cheapest source-end of story. How many times have I heard "thanks for the great reviews, I wouldn't have even considered this ski had it not been for your time and advice, but this other guy saved me $50, so I bought from him." Skis are often 1/2 price on Ebay in pre-season. As long as customers don't value service and aren't willing to pay for it, it makes it tough for service-oriented people to stay around. The funny thing is seeing how many customers make mistakes by buying something "on sale" from BIG 5 or Ebay and get completely the wrong gear, and end up paying more in the end when they buy some gear that is actually appropriate for them. A guy came in with a 150cm snowboard for his 8-year old kid the other day, telling me the great deal ($100) he got at the ski swap. Yeah, I said, but he can't use it: it is a head taller than the kid, and the bindings aren't even narrow enough for him to comfortably stand on the board. "But it was a great deal: are you sure he can't ride it?" If people were willing to place value on good gear and service, there would be well-paid staff to help them make their choices. As long as they are only searching for the next "deal" though, the service just won't be there. I often think that for many people, getting the "deal" is more important than the actual product. It is always comical when the slick corporate-looking 40 year old guy pulls up in his $55,000 Lexus and asks me "what's the best ski you got for $200?"

If you use the "Gear Review Forum" to select skis to purchase, pony up a few $ for an Epic supporter fee, and try to support retailers that get you into the right gear, not just who has the cheapest price. As they say in retail: Price, Product, Service; pick 2.

As a general retail overview in this country, it seems that price is king: not quality, not service. I would rather see people put money into good gear that will enhance their enjoyment and last them a long time. They would be happier in the end, spend less time running around, and not pay very much more. I would rather people own a few items of high quality and related to the things they really enjoy, rather than a bunch of cheapo crap that we love to consume in America. In Japan (maybe Samurai can chime in) it definitely seems like people have less stuff, but the stuff they do have is of much higher quality, and service is far from just being sought-after: it is expected. The service in pretty much any establishment over there blows away anything we see here, whether it be shopping, food, entertainment, whatever. When Japanese people come see us, they are always asking "why isn't anyone helping us?" My response is "because prices are low: nobody wants to pay for service in this country".

Cycling is a different animal completely. Most of the shops in Bend are VERY well staffed. But, it is harder to buy a high-end bicycle online unless you really know your stuff and don't need fitting locally. They have a niche that is hard to replicate unless you are an experienced cyclist. Also, if you ride alot, you need work on your bike, and most people don't have a clue how to turn a wrench.
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolll703 View Post
I see the point of people not knowing what they are talking about in alot of the bigger chain stores, but there are exceptions in many cases. I work at a "chain-type" store which sells skis and we have a few people who know alot and that have been skiing since the last ice age and they can tell you everything you need to know about any kind of skiing. Yes there are way more people who don't know but not all of us are idiots. I guess it all depends on what store you go into and who is on staff. In our shop we get no extra $ no commission or any reward for selling anything so most of us have the goal to genuinly help people find skis and get into the sport.
I agree.

I've also seen small ski shops where they push stuff on you that just isn't right for you. Often just for the $$$$. I bought some sally Scream pilots about 10 years ago (it was when they first came out). The the guy in the ski shop told me would be perfect for me. Cost me around $1000 and they had more chatter than a kindergarten classroom. I'm 6'2" and 275, anyone who tried these skis knows they are way to soft for me.
I did get tons of compliments since that were the ski du jour at that time. They did however sell me some Dachstein Boots that rock. I still have they although they have intuition powerwrap liners now. Ironically I didn't realize the ski were wrong for me until I skied good enough to realize it.

That brings me to another point. Often times people do it to themselves. They read or hear about a hot ski and have to have it.

Many people, both unknowledgable store employees and customers, only consider height in determining skis. The don't consider weight, strength, terrain skied, skill, etc.

Someone in an earlier post mentioned bad boots being worse than bad skis. While I see the point. I hate to see people go wrong with either. As well as bad advice on pole, clothing, and other accessories.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysdg View Post
I agree.

I've also seen small ski shops where they push stuff on you that just isn't right for you. Often just for the $$$$. I bought some sally Scream pilots about 10 years ago (it was when they first came out). The the guy in the ski shop told me would be perfect for me. Cost me around $1000 and they had more chatter than a kindergarten classroom. I'm 6'2" and 275, anyone who tried these skis knows they are way to soft for me.
I did get tons of compliments since that were the ski du jour at that time. They did however sell me some Dachstein Boots that rock. I still have they although they have intuition powerwrap liners now. Ironically I didn't realize the ski were wrong for me until I skied good enough to realize it.

That brings me to another point. Often times people do it to themselves. They read or hear about a hot ski and have to have it.

Many people, both unknowledgable store employees and customers, only consider height in determining skis. The don't consider weight, strength, terrain skied, skill, etc.

Someone in an earlier post mentioned bad boots being worse than bad skis. While I see the point. I hate to see people go wrong with either. As well as bad advice on pole, clothing, and other accessories.
I have always wondered about the "hot ski" phenomenon. Where does it come from? Not reading Ski or Skiing magazine, I don't get what exactly even is a "hot ski". Is is the ski that all of your buddies have? A ski that is some sort of status product? No ski should ever be the "hot ski" as no ski will ever cover the ability range, the skiing-speed range, the snow condition range, nor the height and weight range. Those are 5 factors to consider, probably broken up into 3 to 5 possible variations per factor, giving you a huge range for what ski is suitable. How could one ski just be "the best?"

Hopefully people still get out and demo to see what works for them!
post #22 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgcatching View Post
I have always wondered about the "hot ski" phenomenon. Where does it come from? Not reading Ski or Skiing magazine, I don't get what exactly even is a "hot ski". Is is the ski that all of your buddies have? A ski that is some sort of status product? No ski should ever be the "hot ski" as no ski will ever cover the ability range, the skiing-speed range, the snow condition range, nor the height and weight range. Those are 5 factors to consider, probably broken up into 3 to 5 possible variations per factor, giving you a huge range for what ski is suitable. How could one ski just be "the best?"

Hopefully people still get out and demo to see what works for them!
Who has time for all that. Just see what your favorite rock star, or movie star, or magazine, or even your friend who skis awesome has and buy those. Oh, and get the length that is 6" above your head. Man those 140mm waist Fat-Ypus Alotta's will rock the frozen ice bumps on upper crossover at Hunter Mtn!

Do you like James Bond movies? Get the Stockli Scott Schmidts. the have great "Wedge Hold"

Dawgcatching, you are spot on, but unfortunately, The Masses are Asses.

Johnny
post #23 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysdg View Post
Dawgcatching, you are spot on, but unfortunately, The Masses are Asses.

Johnny
They DO, however, keep your resort open.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by johnnysdg View Post


Many people, both unknowledgable store employees and customers, only consider height in determining skis. The don't consider weight, strength, terrain skied, skill, etc.
I think weight is much more important than height.
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