Competition in the Rocky Mountains has swelled recently as far as the number of locations offering snowboard products. But most retailers have not experienced a negative impact on profit. To the contrary, T.B.S. Snowboard Shop in Downieville, Colorado says the opening of another nearby shop, MAX Snowboards, has actually been beneficial. The Downieville location is near an exit off the I-70 Corridor en route to Summit County and Vail with minimal other services available.
“MAX and Breeze have helped business,” says T.B.S. Owner Glen Vesterby. “People notice them MAX, get off the highway, but many times stop here first.”
Vesterby also says his shop offers full retail, rental, and repairs whereas MAX is primarily rentals. This gives T.B.S. an additional edge. In the Salt Lake City vicinity, personnel at The Bottom Line Snowboard Shop in Murray, Utah concur with Vesterby that competition has not been fierce among local retailers. “Competition seems to be getting healthier,” says Junior Partner Reese Arnett.
Team manager Dan Baily says stronger product on the market means there’s less need to lure people in with sales and special promotions. “Product is so good now people can pick and choose where they shop.”Arnett agrees, adding that there are a lot of “third-generation buyers” these days who are shopping more aggressively for a specific product. Price wars among area retailers are a rare occurrence because shops tend to be selling through at good margins.
At The Underground in Breckenridge, Colorado Manager Andy Schultz agrees that specialty shops in his area are actively supportive of one another. While there are three snowboard-specific shops within one mile of his location, he likes to think of the larger ski shops who now offer snowboard lines as the real competition. For instance, Gart Sports recently opened a store in nearby Silverthorne, and Specialty Sports has moved into various locations around Summit County.
“If someone asks, I always direct them toward a snowboard shop,” says Schultz. “We are carving out a niche that you won’t find with people who work in the big ski shops. Usually if people are snowboarders it’s a big part of their lives. These are the people you will find working at the specialty shops.”
In Winter Park, Colorado Powder Tools Manager Bruce Isakson elaborates this point. He says it’s common for people who begin their purchases at the ski shops to later visit Powder Tools for the shop to fix something.
“People get talked into buying the wrong board and come to us to fix it,” Isakson says. “We also see a need for binding and strap adjustments that were incorrect.”
With Denver only an hour and a half away, Winter Park’s realm of competition is wide. Before the larger shops incorporated snowboarding, Isakson says he felt the competition to a much lesser degree.
At Snowboards of the Rockies in Frisco, Colorado, Senior Associate Thunder Tindall pinpoints a competitive edge held by specialty shops over a larger ski shop: “All of our guys ride. We don’t sell a product just because we heard it’s good. We stand by everything because at least one of us has ridden it.”
Tindall compares this to personnel in a nonspecialty shop who are apt to sell products with little or no knowledge. He says, along this principle, that’s why his shop “doesn’t sell skis.”
Tindall says competition among the other snowboard shops in the area has died down in the past few years. He says they’re all working together. Also, none of the product lines in his shop compete with lines at the one other shop in town, located right across the street.