Midwest Report

At Alternative Bike and Board in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Manager Joel Erickson says his customers are extremely in-tune with industry happenings. He says people were coming into the store asking if this was the last year for Ride, because is was recently bought out.

"I don’t know how they know," says Erickson. "I don’t know if it helps business or if it hurts it."

Although there have been questions about Ride’s longevity, he also says it doesn’t hurt that loyal customers know the company is backed by an even bigger company in K2–his Ride customers are loyal and they can trust their warranties. "A Ride customer is the hardest to talk out of a board," he says.

Peter Harviux, manager of Fobia in Saint Paul, Minnesota, also says his customers are in-tune with the industry, and that the K2 deals were the big buzz recently. Harviux says this knowledge is good, but thinks consolidation is killing the industry. "To my best ability I like to keep customers aware of the companies they’re supporting."

Harviux says he does this because he wants consumers to know companies caught up in consolidation aren’t what they used to be–the product isn’t the same, he says, and the brands have essentially lost their ’core values. He says he wants his customers to know the big brands will be found in the big stores.

According to Harviux, the loss of a brand’s ’core values in favor of mass production affects the kids who want the goods not everyone has–’core kids don’t want to see the starting quarterback of their high school wearing the same snowboard jacket or riding their board.

Kevin Anger, owner of Corky’s Surf Shop in Roseville, Michigan, says his customers don’t really know much about the industry. "They usually find out about a year later after somebody tells them." As a result, the store doesn’t feel any residual effects on business.

At Flying Fish in Madison, Wisconsin, President Benny Imhoff says, "They’re pretty informed. They get it before I do."

He says the kids these days are pretty savvy and computer literate. Through the Internet, kids are getting information before Imhoff does–even though it may be misleading or a rumor. In some cases the rumors can be so vicious he has to quell them when the customers come in and tell him about it.

As for business, Imhoff doesn’t know if it’s really hurting business. He says the team-rider defections and injuries can carry a little weight in terms of the pro models, but other than that it doesn’t affect them much. "It might affect parents with stock," says Imhoff.

Drew Dieterich, owner of Let It Ride in Shawnee, Kansas says industry happenings don’t affect him because the reliable companies he carries have stayed the same. He also doesn’t worry because a majority of his customers aren’t in tune with this type of news anyway. If they are, they’re finding it out from him.

"The minority of customers who do eat, drink, and breathe snowboarding are the ones who sometimes even let him know," he says.