It still wasn’t icy, but it was getting colder and wetter. The second day of the annual EWSRA/NEWSR Stratton On Snow Demo at Stratton Mountain, Vermont showed more of the same conditions, with freezing rain turning to snow in the afternoon. The conditions proved to been both good and bad for demoing equipment. On the one hand, the snow was soft and groomed pretty well. One retailer was overheard in the Gondola saying, “The rep asked me if the board rode good and I said, ‘Yes.’ Of course it rode good. Everything carves good in mash potatoes.”

On the other hand, the cold, wet rain made it tough for anyone to stay out too long, but many retailers still braved the conditions to try out some new equipment, and snowboard reps were hiding from the rain under their tents waiting for more people to try out their equipment.

Part of the on snow demo helps retailers sort out some new brands to bring in to their shops for the next season. “We’re looking at some of the different brands that we don’t currently carry,” says Chris Quinn, the buyer for the Ski Stop in New York. “The Salomon boards rode really well, even in the mash potatoes. We rode two different Nitro boards that were nice as well.

“Every year we try to make our order a little cleaner and make sure we sell through everything we have. We’ve been going narrower and deeper with each of our key vendors and it opens the door for some new guys to get a chance.”

He doesn’t expect to order too much more product for next season even though this was a good year. “We have to be wise about our ordering,” Quinn says. “We had good snow so we sold everything, but that doesn’t mean we have to order a lot more. But my orders will be up with my major vendors, but no more than ten percent. I’d like to be able to sell though my inventory by Christmas and still be able to reorder.”

The demo also gave retailers a chance to compare different products out. “Price points for boards are dropping down in the sub 400-dollar range even with great technology,” Mike Pascale from Danizen and Quigley in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. “We’re also checking out a lot of the step-ins. We’re doing well with the highback systems from Clicker. In our area there’s definitely the demand. When you have a run that only lasts you 20 seconds and it takes you 40 seconds to put your straps on, people will dig step-ins. Plus, we have a lot of skier crossover. We’re also doing well with straps, they’ll never go away.”He says that they’ll stay conservative with orders for next season as well. “We ran out of women’s stuff really early this year so we’ll probably order a little more for next year.”

Dave Romiza, the Flow and Option/NFA rep in the Northeast was pleased with the turnout. “There’s a good mix of retailers from Buffalo to Long Island here. I’m very happy.” His sales manager, Craig Wilson, also had praise for the retailers who braved the conditions. “Retailers here today showed the spirit of riding in this rainy weather. More people are definitely trying out boots today.”

We’re skipping the third day of the Stratton On Snow demo, to instead head over to Mount Snow tomorrow and follow the action at the X-Games. Watch for coverage of the Snow Cross event tomorrow.