By Megan Woods
Snowboarding Business called fifteen major shops around the country this week to see what was really going on in the marketplace and get a read on whether business was up or down due to the September 11th terrorist attack and subsequent retaliations. Surprise! Business is overwhelmingly up this season, although a few shops are seeing slow sales. To the people who live, eat, drink, and dream about the coming snowfall, it seems snowboarding is more important than anything else going on in the world. And that’s pretty special. Here’s what the shops had to say:
World Boards, Missoula, Montana
It’s apparent preseason sales at World Boards in Montana depend solely on the anticipation of winter by the locals. After last year’s depressing snow season Manager Josh is preparing for a more entertaining winter. “We just got snow a couple of weeks ago,” he says. “Sales just picked up and so far they are super good.”
After hurting for snow last year, World Boards is now hoping to sell tons of boards. “If people bought something new (last year) it was boots and bindings, and then they’d just trash their old boards. So right now people are going to be buying boards.” While boots seem to be making a home on the store’s shelves, some outerwear and Option snowboards are disappearing quickly as the anticipation for the season in Montana mounts.
The Wright Life, Fort Collins, Colorado
Preseason sales at The Wright Life in Colorado seem to prove people in the town are looking forward to a winter distraction from the recent events shaking up the nation. Economic turmoil has had little effect on the shop and its sales are up ten percent from last year. “People want to get away and remove themselves from what’s going on,” says Owner Bill Wright. Sales on top-selling brands prove this to be the case as customers are finding interest in Never Summer, Burton, Lib Tech, and Flow.
Even so, Wright will have to wait until it snows to sell one thing ¿outerwear. “People get psyched up by movie premieres and buy decks, but clothing is driven by cold weather.”
Val Surf, Valencia, California
Things in California at Val Surf are “right on track” according to Jason, a manager at Val Surf. “Not better, but not worse,” he says about seasonal sales so far.
Burton boards are popular sales for the Val Surf customers as well as M3, which Jason believes are “doing pretty well for the beginning of the season.”
Jason remarks that sales during the past few weeks closely follow the sales trends of past years: “No matter what, people are still going to want to snowboard.”
U.S. Outdoor Store, Portland, Oregon
There is a sense of doubt in the air around the Portland area. U.S. Outdoor Store Assistant Manager George is placing the blame of “generally slow” preseason sales on one thing¿weather.
“People are still skeptic from last year’s winter and are waiting for snow to fall before they blow their money,” he says. The theory proved itself correct, as store sales picked during the first week of bad weather.
Sales were also affected by the events of September 11. “The economy is slow, but the weather is still hitting 80 degrees,” he says. As for the items shuffling from the shelves, George says, “Burton and Salomon boots are on fire.”
Mountain and Surf, Sacramento, California
California’s Mountain and Surf shop is feeling the economic turmoil of the past couple of weeks as well. The preseason sales for the shop are off to a rocky start, behind last year’s sales by 25 percent. The shop suggests the recent tragedy is a possible reason for the slow sales at Mountain and Surf.
“The news is telling people not to go outside, no one wants to come out and spend money,” says Tiffany, one of the shop’s employees. It seems sales in the past two weeks have only gotten worse. But even though the shelves at Mountain and Surf are not seeing much action right now, once the snow falls in California, things could pick up substantially.
Surfside Sports, Newport Beach, California
The annual snowboard carnival/demo at Surfside Sports received a lot of attention, and gave the shop a boost in sales. Surfside Owner Duke Edukas says the event was the best one ever and topped all sales records, including last year’s, which had held it before. During the event, the shop sold 48 pairs of Burton gloves and tons of Burton boards. Volcom outerwear surprised Edukas by outselling all other outerwear brands, including Burton. “Sales were weak right after the terrorist attacks and for the following two weeks, but then it picked back up and its been going like gangbusters,” he says. Although Edukas feels it’s still too early to tell, things are looking up for the California store.
Exit Real World, Portland, Oregon
The name of Exit Real World reflects the outlook its customers are attempting to take. Jason, one of the store’s workers, suggests kids of the area are anticipating winter and come in to check out the new gear as a distraction from the real drama taking place in the world. “Everyone’s wanting to get out there and stop being so consumed with what’s going on in the world,” he says. The sales at Exit Real World are doing pretty well, and follow the shop’s predictions from last year. The most popular brands for the shop are the Capita boards size 158.5 and 153, along with the Burton Custom and Seven series.
Mt. Si, North Bend, Washington
It’s still early in the season, but sales at Mt. Si are “not too bad yet,” according to Manager Sheldon. “A lot of people are looking at things, but we haven’t gotten all the new stuff in. Even so, people are buying last year’s stuff,” he continues. Like many retailers, the shop was hit hard by the attacks on September 11. “Sales were horrible that week and hours had to be cut,” he says. In spite of the slow down, Vans boots are rushing off the shelf at Mt. Si.
Olympic Sports, Seattle, Washington
The seasonal sales at Olympic Sports in Washington are just beginning to pick up. Although the sales are normal compared to this time last year, weekends are bringing people to the store. And what are they buying? Boots. Northwave and Salomon are outselling Burton and Ride in Olympic Sports’ boot department. As for board sales, a spokesperson for Olympic Sports comments, “Nothing to big, nothing to brag about, pretty normal for this time of year.”
Snowboard Connection, Seattle, Washington
The staff of Snowboard Connection is waiting for snow to fall. Although sales have been good so far, they will most likely pick up after the first flakes hit the ground. The sales are believed to have been slower than last year in light of recent circumstances, and the store reports seeing less traffic, but continual interest. The brands beginning to sell for the Snowboard Connection include Salomon boots, Arcteryx outerwear, Burton, and Option boards.
SFO Snowboarding, San Francisco, California
The trends for SFO Snowboarding in California are beginning to pick up. “We’re selling a little here and there,” says Store Manager Brian. The sales are just starting to pick up and Brian thinks sales are good so far. He’s sure it’ll take a little time to know whether recent events will have any lasting effects on the season’s sales.