Shop Owners Melanie and Dan Loveland of Daddies Board Shop in Portland, Oregon are feeling pretty lucky right now. Continuous storms have left regional resorts swimming in powder and business is strong.
They’re also carrying brands that have "consistently bent over backwards to accommodate us," says Melanie.
"We currently carry Never Summer, Atlantis, Joyride, and Santa Cruz," she adds. "They all delivered on time and I really couldn’t ask for better retailer service. Never Summer, in particular, really puts up with a lot and they’ve always been there for us. They go above and beyond the call of duty."
Even though Never Summer doesn’t have a rep in the area, the Lovelands say this hasn’t been a problem. "I always personally talk to co-owner Tracey Canaday or national sales manager Sean MacAllister," he says. "I actually like that better than speaking to a rep."
On the downside, Melanie says Never Summer has almost sold out of product, which can make thing difficult later in the season.
Who offers the best customer service? "That’s simple: Jamie Salter," says Owner Troy Dorris of Epic Sports in Vancouver, Washington. "It’s gonna piss a lot of people off, but Jamie finds the deals the other brands can’t provide and he’s in better touch with the what’s really being sold."
Salter and his company CAS Sports have been well known in the industry as being able to gather and ship a lot of excess product. "He finds a great board for 250 bucks with great warranty," says Dorris. "I’m able to make the margin it takes to survive where the bigger companies’ solution is to tell me to discount their product. But I don’t see them offering many discounts, so it’s my ass on the line."
Dorris says that with the deals CAS offers many of his margins have reached keystone: "I pretty much hate how the industry is structured, and I’d love to have the power to change it."
Keith Trice, manager and buyer at Hillcrest Ski And Snowboards in Oregon City, Oregon says in-season service and sales have generally been good. "We’ve always had good luck with K2," he says. "I don’t know if that’s because they are pretty close to us–just up the road in Washington–or whether it’s because a few of our former employees now work there."
The shop carries brands such as K2, Burton, Morrow, Sims, Lib Tech, Gnu, Ride, Arnell, Salomon, Forum–and others.
One of the biggest customer-service surprises this year was from Burton. "They really picked it up this year," he says. "In the past you really didn’t hear much about Burton when it came to service."
And Burton had some challenges to overcome to get on Trice’s good side. "They lost our preseason order," he says. "We never got a order confirmation, but we really didn’t think much about it. But when our other store started getting Burton products in September and we hadn’t received anything here, we called them up. All they said was ‘What order?’"
Trice says since then there has been a change in reps and things are moving much more smoothly. "I definitely lost some money on that problem, and our order ended up not being what we expected, but once it came to their attention they did a good job," he says.
Trice also says the recall of the SI binding was handled in a speedy, professional way.
The season started off deep for Bend, Oregon, with more than an 100-inch base by late November. "We were selling so many long boards," recalls Jody Prummer, co-owner of Snowboard Supply. "Mt. Bachelor isn’t that steep, so most of the boards we sell are between 150 and 158–but not this year."
The brands the shop carries includes Silence, Random, Joyride, Avalanche, Barfoot, F2, Kemper, Rossignol, and Barfoot. "Everyone was pretty on top of it and shipped on time–and we order late to take advantage of deals–but some of the best service was from Random and Avalanche," says Prummer.
Prummer says Snowboard Supply mainly deals with the companies directly. "The reps are cool," he says, "but the people within each company have the best idea of what they have in stock." Because they’re able to order late, he says the shop can offer customers board and binding packages for 250 to 300 dollars. "Most of our customers are locals who don’t have a ton of money. Our profit margin isn’t as high, but doing more business makes up for it in the end."
It isn’t a snowboard brand that gets top kudos at Cal’s Pharmacy in Portland, Oregon. "Of all the companies we deal with, Arnette is by far the best," says Manager Mike Reynolds. "The rep is awesome and the overall customer service is excellant."
Of the snowboard brands the shop carries, most receive passing grades. "Mervin has always done a good job, and Forum, World Industries, and Type A are doing well for us," he says.
Only one company is one Reynolds’ hit list: "Burton has been lagging beyond belief," he says with more than a little exasperation. "We had to send all our step-ins back, then the straps on all the CFX bindings were wrong so we had to drill out each pair we sold, and Burton hasn’t even gotten their parts kit out to shops. They’ve been flippin’ this year."