In a move that Palmer Snowboards has made for four years now, the company has brought 25 snowboard retailers over to Europe to tour its headquarters and factory, see how the brand operates and builds boards, and get a sneak peak at what it’ll be offering next season.

And the retailers this year are some heavy hitters, representing such stores as Intrawest, Vail/Specialty Sports, Erik’s in Minnesota, Val Surf in California, U.S. Outdoor in Oregon, Olympic Sports and REI in Washington, B-Side in Vermont, and Specialty Sports in New Jersey.

After a grueling flight over to Europe, day one of the trip consisted of a brief introduction of the company at its headquarters in Glarus, Switzerland, just an hour outside of Zurich. Palmer International Sales Manager Werner Zopfi kicked things off by saying why he believes these trips are so valuable, “We have the opportunity to introduce what we do to you and to build confidence with our retailers, while we get to meet you and get some good feedback as well.”

Located in a multi-story industrial looking office, the Palmer headquarters is small, with just seven people working at it. But they also have a large showroom, with a unique meat-locker hanging system wrapping around the ceiling. Dangling from the tracks are dozens of articles of clothing and board racks, while there’s also freestanding displays such as the Palmer Profit Center that shows off all the products in one package. “This works really well because we can move things around easily,” says Palmer President Jurg Kunz. “We bring a lot of retailers here and it never looks the same for them.”

Kunz continued with the introduction to the retailers by saying the when Palmer decided to start a brand six years ago, he knew he had the marketing and image in the U.S., but needed a counterpart in Europe. The factory is in the heart of where all ski factories are and has the tooling, know-how, technology, and world-leading materials to build great boards.

He said that there are two factors currently going on in the market that are influencing the Palmer program. One is the return of legends of the sport in magazines today combined with the new superpipe trend in freestyle competitions.

“The Olympics are coming and its huge,” says Kunz. “We don’t want to go in the direction of ski competition, but we want to go more freestyle.

“With the superpipes, they allow some of the legends to come back into competition and opens up the lifestyle side of things. Shaun is the four-time world champion in the pipe. We’ll be launching new freestyle boards. Compare the graphics we have on those boards and see the change.”

The next market for Palmer is the women’s market. “This is the first time we’ve hired a whole women’s team of former champions and we’ve developed high-performance women’s boards,” Kunz adds.

Both of these markets are definitely an expansion from Palmer’s original niche of boardercross racing. The brand still plans on offering products directed toward that market.

Some of the retailers on the trip don’t really need to be sold on the brand, but they appreciate getting to come along. “Palmer is growing tremendously in our store, and we’ve reordered from them three times,” says Sub Skates Owner Barry Leydecker. “They stand for quality and technology. It’s great to get to sit down and see the internal operations. It gets you pumped up. Whatever the owner or manager likes in the store will sell more. People buy technology, what they can see. It’s great marketing. This trip is definitely hyping everyone up on Palmer.”

Snowboarding Business will bring you more updates from the Palmer Trip 2001. Next up, the retailers get over their jet lag and start raising hell.

¿Willoughby La Jolla III