By Casey Macker
“Yes, we do have Internet access,” says Betty Maland, who with the help of her husband owns and manages three Dusty’s Ski and Snowboard Shops throughout Washington.
The shop uses the Internet mostly for practical purpose–like networking and communication between shops. Maland notes that the shop recently launched a Web site designed by her son Christopher Maland.
“It the Internet has been a real pusher to be more creative,” she says. “Although we have been somewhat reluctant, I think the ’Net is a good way of letting the world know that we’re out there.”
Dave Debrey, owner of Detours Bike and Board in Mazama, Washington says his shop has no Internet access. However, he adds that he may be considering building a site in the near future. When asked what his motivation for this was, Debrey replied half jokingly, “Because it’s the thing.”
Debrey says the ’Net would help get the word out about his operation, which he considers to be little-known and isolated.
Although Tom Hale, owner of Surf’s Up Inc. in Pocatello, Idaho says he feels slightly threatened by the ’Net, he’s found no practical reason for incorporating it into his business. “I’m just a simple snowboarder. I don’t have any need for the Web,” says Hale.
As far as building a Web site for the shop is concerned, Hale again sees little purpose. In Ashland, Oregon, Low Down owner Rueben Davis sees things differently. Davis has been hard at work incorporating an interactive Web site into his shop sales. The site, which has been up and running for the last nine months, allows shoppers to virtually visit his shop.
“Web surfers actually walk through the doors of a 3-D representation of Low Down,” says Davis. “Once inside, they can click on different items in our shop and view the product.”
However, he notes that this form of retail has its limitations. “More venders are restricting the amount of products we’re able to sell over the ’Net, and this sort of thing only partially replaces visiting an actual shop–you can’t tune a snowboard online,” he says.
Up Highway I-5 in Grant’s Pass, Oregon, Extreme Board Shop Owner Jon Tamashiro also says retailing over the ’Net will never be able to replace physical visits to stores like his. He’s glad to see some of the vendors stonewalling e-commerce.
Tamashiro does, however, see a growing need for a Web site and has plans to build one. “It’s definitely the wave of the future and I think it’s becoming increasingly important to have something for people surfing the Web to check out–that’s the trend,” says Tamashiro.