With ski and snowboard season rapidly approaching, many enthusiasts will dip into their gear closet and start taking inventory. Whether it’s hard goods or accessories, most people who ride also enjoy perusing the new products offered up each year.
Online retailers certainly provide a wide array of choices, and often at a slightly reduced price, which means they’re quickly replacing tried-and-true local businesses. However, nothing beats walking into your hometown shop and having the new selection right at your fingertips.
There is truly no substitute for supporting your local brick-and-mortar ski shack. Here’s why.
You’re buying from the experts
Snowboard legend Dave Downing breaks down the more technical aspects of Burton’s winter line for employees at Hansen Surfboards in Encinitas, California.
Shop rats, as they are so eloquently called, are generally true gearheads. They have sacrificed a life of extravagance in exchange for discounted product and hours that allow them to maximize their time in the outdoors.
Deep in the trenches, shop employees are not only learning about products, but also diligently testing them in the field. If you have ever wondered what the technical differences between a $500 and $700 snowboard are, these devotees are the ones who will wax poetic about it.
Trusting an expert to help you find the right gear is the first step to having a truly epic ski season.
Employees take the guesswork out of fit and function
A quality shop like Eastern Boarder will help you get dialed with the perfect pair of boots.
Skier or snowboarder, boots are the piece of equipment that is going to make or break your session. There is nothing worse than rocking up to the mountain on an insane powder day only to call it quits an hour later due to aching feet.
Everyone’s foot is unique, so it can be a challenge to find a boot that offers all-day comfort. But unlike the guessing game associated with buying online, the right shop will have an abundance of brands and models for you to try on. Most outdoor-sports retailers also have fit experts who can help you find the perfect pair, assuring that you have an awesome season from first to last chair.
You can try before you buy
Mervin Manufacturing has mastered the art of the demo and teams up with shops throughout the nation to get people on their sticks.
With technology constantly evolving, it can become a full-time job to keep up with the latest in gear advancements. New tech usually sounds awesome, but nothing really equates to putting that product to test in the field.
Most shops host product demos and also stock demo product so that their customers can experience high-cost items before they invest. If you have several options in mind, show up to a shop demo, try them all out and then make an informed decision based on which one you like best.
You’re investing in your community
Minneapolis snowboard shop Cal-Surf has long supported local brands, including Midwest-based snowboard company The Interior Plain Project.
Not only will you be supporting your local economy by purchasing from a shop in your town, but you will also be exposed to products developed by neighborhood entrepreneurs.
Most ski and snowboard shops carry lines from multiple makers within their community. While you might not have a hard-goods manufacturer nearby, it is more than likely that there are artisan craftsmen making unique soft goods and accessories that you won’t find online or at big box stores.
You’re connecting with your people
Mount Baker Snowboard Shop has been a pillar of their community since day one.
There’s no place like home, and every rider should have a home shop. Walking into your local shop and saying hello to the myriad of familiar faces is something every mountain lover should embrace.
Aside from making friends who will loan you gear and share beta, spending cash at local businesses means they’re better able to continue supporting their (read: your) ski/snowboard community by hosting events, sponsoring fundraisers and supporting up-and-coming talent.
Swing into your local shop, watch whatever video is playing and chat with the crew. Community is what the mountains are all about.
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