The Bitterness of Poor Quality Remains Long After the Sweetness of Low Price is Forgotten.

This sign was hung on the wall of a shop I used to work at.

It’s that time of year. New gear is rolling in to stores nationwide (well, except in the case of overseas product routed through Montreal because the port workers are on strike, AGAIN).

That means all the cool stuff you have been drooling over in mags and online since last years new gear ski tests will soon be available for purchase, HOORAY! I wish you luck in your quest especially in these weird times. This year’s crop of gear is probably the highest performing selection ever offered.

But wait Jay, you say, I’m on a budget or don’t have my priorities straight. I want to save money on gear. This too is not a problem in some cases manufacturers just put a new paint job on a previous model years winner. The current champion of this trend is the Dynastar Menace 98 which I think is in it’s 7th graphic over the last twelve years. New paint instantly makes non-current product stale even though it’s the exact same. Bonus, you can probably find some left on shelves from last year and possibly discounted. Go to your local independent ski shop, talk to the staff and get what you need, no problem.

That being said, it is very easy to get hung up on price and strive for the best deal. Don’t do it. 

In my little slice of paradise and in my previous retail life elsewhere the standard Kramer bursting through the door and exclaiming “what’s on sale!” leads to eye rolls galore.

Yes, there are many things on sale in most stores for most of the year. Maybe it’s stale, non-current graphic/color as mentioned above. It could be some product that the store did a special buy or closeout on to pass the savings on to the customer, awesome! More commonly it is the bookend sizes like the size 3 World Cup race boot, the size 29 80 flex kids boot, the 115mm waisted 155cm pow ski or 198cm 78mm waisted all mountain ski. All of them great gear for the right person but really, really crappy gear for everyone else. Seriously crappy. Yet more often than not a customer will insist that this is the gear for them, not because it fit their needs or goal but because it’s on sale. How else do you explain the guy that doesn’t telemark but he’s laying down cash for the last size small NTN tele binding in the store? Well it’s 90% off of course. Makes total sense. 

Because we are a small shop in a mountain holiday town we have a steady customer base from town and from the large center 3 hours away. During holiday season we see many customers from points further east. They arrive in town with all the flash new gear they have purchased at the “turkey sales” and early season sales, saving beau coup dollars at the same time. Except the boots don’t fit, at all, like 3 sizes too big don’t fit. Do you want to ruin someone’s holiday? Tell them their new boots are totally wrong for them. Good times. Similar story, “there’s something wrong with my skis”. Okay let me look at them, they look ok except one’s mounted on the “freestyle” line and one’s mounted on the “big mountain’ line. Or they are two different lengths (yes a pair of skis one 178 and one 171). Or a new set of twin tip mounted backwards. Those are more just someone not paying attention upon checkout but when the feeding frenzy of the big sales is going fecal matter happens. 

Back to boots, if you want to have a great fitting boot go into your local bootfitter of choice on a Wednesday morning before ski season starts and put yourself in their capable hands. They will find the right boot for your skiing goals. Avoid weekends when you and the boot guru will get distracted by the riff raff. If you’re lucky maybe the boot will be on sale but in the end a great fitting boot is the end goal.

Have fun, ski Fernie.

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