Cheap Boards And Cheap Strippers
Vermont snowboarders are heading north for deals of all kinds.
The slide of the Canadian dollar last year happened at an opportune time for snowboarders in Vermont. Word through the grapevine had it that customers were heading across the Canadian border into Quebec and purchasing goods for a lot less. Retailers on both sides were questioned, and opinions varied depending on which country they were from.
According to Bill Fuzacharkiw, owner of Faktory in Montreal, the slide of the Canadian currency in 1998 meant a better value for shoppers buying products with United States dollars. For example, goods were ordered and set at a rate of $1.32 Canadian to one U.S. dollar, and product pricing sticks through the season. However, dollar rates do not. The rate of $1.32 grew to around $1.50 and caused what would ordinarily be a 600-dollar board Canadian or 450 U.S., to become a 400-U.S. dollar board.
To a Vermont resident, especially a teenager, this is all too enticing. According to Fuzacharkiw, Montreal is Partytown, Canada. Even though Montreal is approximately an hour and a half away, who can resist a savings of more than 50 dollars per board, a drinking age of sixteen, a lap dance (six dollars in Canada equals four U.S. dollars), and good snow in nearby mountains. Fuzacharkiw says Canadian shops have been trying to take advantage of the proximity and advertising on American radio.
Being fifteen minutes from the border, Sebastien LaFebvre, owner of Illusion in Sherbrooke, Quebec has sold an extra eight to ten boards a week to U.S. buyers. He has seen this trend for three years and says he’s seeing the most this year, especially in the fifteen-to 25-year-old bracket. LeFebvre says it’s an opportunity for those customers to save approximately twenty to 25 percent.
So have the American retailers felt the heat? Stores in Burlington, Vermont such as B-side and Downhill Edge say not really; if there has been any real competition, it comes with softgoods. Downhill Manager Mike Goodrich says local consumers are going across the border to barter. Potential customers go to Canada, talk a shop price down, and then come back to Vermont expecting shops to do the same. He says they’ll match prices, but not with Canadian retailers.
The whole saving-money-across-the-border idea isn’t just for snowboards. Goodrich has seen a lot of travelers flying into Canada and driving an hour-and-a-half to the resorts in Vermont. According to him the drive plus rental car is still cheaper.
–Aaron “Bills In My Teeth” Checkwood