The Internet is primarily a communication tool for Fire on the Mountain/Burning Boards in Dover, New Hampshire, according to President Bob Siener. The shops have both Internet access and e-mail. Siener says they have also had their own Web site for about two years, ever since one of their customers (who was taking a course in designing Web pages) used the shop for a school project.

Siener says the Web site’s a way to promote the store as a serious shop, not primarily a sales tool. “Between the Web site and e-mail, it’s a great way to communicate with riders.” says Siener. “Customers often share their adventures and it creates a sense of camaraderie.”

E-mail is also useful for people who are looking for a specific product or have questions or problems, he says. “Now we’re starting to see vendors giving up e-mail information. It’s easy. I like it. Sending an e-mail is better than dealing with voice mail.”

Although sales over the Internet are a ways off Siener says, “Eventually that’s going to happen.” Their Web address–fireonthemtn.com–works for both the snowboard and ski shops, but Siener notes that when it comes to technology, “We get a lot more snowboarders than skiers.”

At the other end of the spectrum, Paul Kopp, president of Action Sports in Oakdale, New York, says he wouldn’t even be contemplating getting e-mail and Internet access except for the fact that United Parcel Service is going to require it. “I try to keep things as simple as possible,” Kopp says. He expected to be online by the end of summer, but isn’t sure exactly how he will use the technology–other than shipping packages, of course. While he’s at it, he says he expects the shop will probably also have a Web site.

Rob Murphy, president of Luna Sea, a small ’core shop in Providence, Rhode Island, says he uses the Internet and e-mail more for “personal stuff” than for business. However, the shop does get e-mails from customers–even some from foreign countries, he says. The shop has a Web site–lunaseaonline.com–which Murphy says was recently updated. While he used to have pictures of products the shop sold, the new site features team riders.

At North Star Cyclery in Burlington, Vermont, Partner Jay Miller says, “Things are changing fast” on the technology front. The store is setting up a new Web site that will be online in late fall.

“It will be very comprehensive and have links to suppliers and related sites,” Miller says. “It’s more complicated than we thought. It requires a lot of work.”

The shop uses e-mail, and is trying to get used to it. “It will be similar to using the phone,” says Miller. Employees consciously try to give out the shop’s e-mail address (nscbmx@aol.com) and let people know about the Web site.

High Mountain Sports in McHenry, Maryland, has Internet access and e-mail, but no Web site. “We’re in the process of doing something about it,” says Hardware Buyer Brian Glotfelty. The shop maintains an e-mail list as well as a regular snail-mail list, and uses both to promote specials. Glotfelty says the broadcast e-mails have gotten a good response.

The Competitive Edge/Fat Trax ski, bike, and snowboard shops in the Longmeadow, Massachusetts, area didn’t have Internet access, e-mail, or a Web site, but, according to Manager Kris Gasque, it’s getting into it. She says the five shops would use a Web site primarily to let people know where the stores are, what products they carry, and about product availability. She says having a Web site is important in order to be competitive. Gasque also says they will have e-mail, but isn’t sure it would be used for anything important.