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The Other Side Of The Street

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

There is another thread in this forum that seems to have a bit of and I want to add another perspective so maybe we can get some of .


First - I love this forum and always read it.  I've gotten great info from it and have a great respect for the boot fitters that seem to answer the same questions over and over and over.  This forum has enabled me to go to ski shops and talk to the the resident boot fitters that have been doing this for over 20 years and realize they fit boots (for comfort) but aren't boot fitters.  I think I even started a thread here about a year ago that asked how to figure out who is a real boot fitter.  I have difficulty figuring it out until I'm in the shop and they start the process and I've read every thread I can on this site and others and have had countless conversations on the subject. 


I'm far from an expert and almost know enough to be dangerous, so I can imagine what the folks that don't have OCD (according to my wife) like I do and are trying to get the single most important thing done for their skiing. 


The problem that I and I would guess many consumers run into, is that anyone can say they are a boot fitter and by time you realize they really aren't, you can be out several hundred dollars.  I even went to a shop that people referred me to as "the best in there is".  I guess they meant in that store or the referrals only wanted something comfy.


I kept putting off going to a "real" boot fitter because it meant close to a 3 hour drive.  Granted there were others closer but I had received as many bad reviews about them as good.  When I finally went, I ended up leaving a very happy customer, albeit much lighter in the pocket that holds the wallet.  The boots that I was fitted to weren't bought in the shop and the real boot fitter told me they were a perfect fit for my feet and he wouldn't try to get me in another boot; and they don't' carry that brand.  And I bought them via the Internet from a real boot fitter that posts at epic.  I have been told I have a "off the shelf foot".  Maybe I was just lucky.  'nuff said.


Brought my daughter to the same real boot fitter with a pair of new boots that I had purchased locally with the understanding between the local shop and me that I was taking her to a boot fitter and she would either be fitted to that pair of boots or another.  Both shops knew that I was having difficulty finding anything in her size and the real boot fitter wasn't sure they would have her size.  The local shop wasn't able to do the type of fitting she would need.


At the boot fitting for her, they explained why the boot that they were selling would be better for her than the one I bought.  Fine.  I bought those boots, did the fitting and returned the boots bought locally. 


This past season I did quite a bit of business with the two shops I'm referring to and was honest with both of them up front and they charged me as appropriate.  I believe when you buy boots from the fitter there are some things thrown in that someone that BYOB pays for .  What's fair is fair.


So boot fitters, know that you are making progress but most folks don't know what they are missing and many have to invest not only money but a lot of time and hope it turns out right.  I have a hard time buying just regular shoes now because of the education provided here.  It is also very easy for a skiing consumer to get caught up in in a lousy boot fit.  This past season I stopped a shop from working on my boots because I realized after what they were doing was wrong.  I did pay them for their time.  They would have ruined my boots.  The real boot fitter told me that I didn't need any of that and they didn't know what led them to believe I did.  I believe the $150 to plane them  "at least 3 deg" they were going to charge me led them to that.


Folks buying boots,  The best thing to do is hunt down and stick with a really good boot fitter. I know it isn't easy to find one especially if you don't live in a ski area.  If you want to do it "My Way" like I did, tell all involved parties what you are doing.  The end result is worth it but it is important that everyone involved gets their fair share.


If you are going on a skiing vacation at a location with real boot fitters, do the fitting there.  If you're going to be there for a week get it done the first day and if they need any tweaking you can probably ski right to their door.  Starting your vacation with boots that are broken in but not perfectly fitted aren't near as good as boots that still need to break in but are perfectly fitted IMHO.


Do as much shopping around as you can unless you are fortunate enough to go to a know reputable boot fitter (i.e. one that posts here).


Don't know if this will help or hinder but felt I had to do it.




I edited for clarification and to fix grammar and spelling

Edited by L&AirC - 7/20/10 at 8:55pm
post #2 of 7

Nice post Ken!

post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

P.S.  Forgot to do the financials.


If I bought the boots new from a boot fitter they would have cost $750 plus foot bed would be $950.


I bought them via the internet from someone wanting to get rid of old inventory for $450 and the extras were:


Shipping $35

molding $40 (from some one that fits boots but isn't a boot fitter)

footbed $ 40 (off the shelve)



Total $565


Boots were way better than anything I had previously but I was always screwing with them because there were so many adjustments and they never seemed to be the same way twice in a row.


Following year I went to a real boot fitter and spent:


custom foot bed $200

analysis and mods $100*    (heel lift, one pass on the planer for clean up, cuff alignment)  The education I received about my particular feet and how to properly wear the boots were worth the price of admission. 


* Not 100% sure on this cost because it was last October but it seems like it is the right amount.  I know my total was about $300.


My feet were incredibly happy and  there were days I was in those boots for more than 12 hours because of instructing and being a ski club organizer .


Now I'm up to $865 and a total of three trips to boot fitters (1 real and 2 imposter) to get them right AND an entire season of screwing with them.  For $95!  Wasn't worth it .


IF I was able to get the boots for the $450 from a real boot fitter (they always seem to be willing to sell last years stuff at a discount, my total would have been $750 and I would have saved $200 bucks.  Not to mention the year of screwing with them and the frustration that brought.


If I had it all to do again, I would go to the real boot fitter, explain what I wanted to achieve and how I ski (be honest, you aren't near as good as you think you are) as much as I can and let them get me in the right boot and just hope they aren't pink .  I'm really hoping next time I need boots I get something as sexy as the Scorpion.  The boot fitters challenge will be to explain to me that I should be in some plain old boot that makes me look even dorkier instead of that.  As long as I'm convinced that the dorky boot will enable me to ski better than my current abilities, I'll get it (always buy gear that's better than you are).  Besides, I can always put my boot gloves over them .


The next time I buy boots, that's what I plan on doing. 


This year I'm going to drive for almost three hours with my daughter to get her checked out to see if we can get another year out of her boots (feet grew a little bit) and to get plates put on my boots.  I wore down the edges from being in them so much so they rock side to side now.


So how much was saved compared to just going straight to the boot fitter.  As far as the savings I received from buying the previous years model, I could have easily done that in a real boot fitters shop.  That's just luck of the draw.


Keep in mind that this purchase is way more important than the skis, goggles or anything else you're going to get.  Everything else pales to this.  You can have the best skis tuned perfectly for you but if your boots don't fit right, you wont be able to ski to your max potential.  Flip it around and if your boots fit perfectly for you and you are on crappy skis, you will be able to out ski your skis.



post #4 of 7

I'd suggest looking at the 'cost' of ski boots amortized over the life of the boot, with the cost of lift tickets factored in, like this:


Average boot 'life' = 150 ski days

Average ski day, say = $45 (way low, considering fuel, food, etc.)




150 x 45 = $6750.00

having a boot that would allow you to enjoy those days? PRICELESS.

post #5 of 7

 Here here!!!!!

post #6 of 7

Whiteroom, I have a buddie who likes to ask customers, "How much is your recreation time worth to you?" which kinda puts things in a better perspective I think.

post #7 of 7

I will chime in here with a view that is overlooked by the consumer but seen from the business end.


From preseason to beginning of February, be it on line or in a store, everyones prices for current model year equipment is about the same due to MAP pricing. Yes, there are stores that will charge full MSRP, 50% you are getting more than your moneys worth in proper service and the other 50% that is pure boutique and you are paying for the experience. Boots that are being "closed out" on-line can also be found at a good fitter and you will get a proper service along with the purchase. Shopping and price comparison is almost a waste of time. 


There is a cost for saving money, and it is may times time related. While any of the boot fitter here will help a customer who comes in with boots that they purchased, lets just say "elsewhere", in the long run that person will pay in more in both money and time. It amazing the value people will put on their money and how little value they put on their time. It is not uncommon to see someone spend 10-20 hours over a few weeks to save $50.00, that same person usually has an income well into the six figure. 


The topic of "theft of services" has also come up from time to time, where someone comes in for a fitting, only to try to buy elsewhere. The red flag that alerts me during the fit when this is a possibility, is when the question "exactly what are you doing?", simple reply is... "My job". I will go into the fact that a boot can be bought anywhere but picking the boot is just the start, then a bootfitters job begins. 


The word "Education" came up in a previous thread, part of my job in the sales process is educating the customer, educating them on boots and what to expect during the fitting process. This is still a sales process and we are still need to provide a service. That service will includes hand holding among the typical expected fitting procedures. 

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