By Alixandra Gould
It’s the oldest, grandest, mother of all snowboard contests, with more than two decades worth of bragging rights. But for slope-side shops, the US Open Snowboarding Championships is not the money maker you’d expect. Pipe Dreams and Syd and Dusty’s are the two snowboard shops located in The Village at Stratton Mountain in Vermont, home of the US Open since 1985.
The Village, the mountain’s commerce center, is a relatively inconvenient shuttle ride away from all contest events, keeping away the kids and their money. When kids do manage to make their way towards The Village, they’re not spending money on hardgoods. Instead of big-buck products, cheaper merchandise specific to the Open are the sellers of the week. If something sells this weekend it’s probably plastered with the US Open logo, Stratton logo, or for this year, the Philips logo.
But, if shops aren’t selling product, they’re definitely selling out of the backshop and repair department. “We put a lot of man labor into tuning and tweaking the competitors’ boards,” says Dennis Whittemore, a manager at Pipe Dreams. “This is a week when being able to fix any ding, scratch, or dent really comes in handy. We spend the week replacing a lot of lost screws and broken straps. Tuning is definitely the highlight of the weekend.”
The average customer for Stratton’s shops is the older, home-owning season-passer. Shannon Greene of Syd and Dusty’s, two doors down from Pipe Dreams, says her clientele is pretty much all set on gear for the season. “We don’t get a lot of transients,” she says. “The new, younger, unloyal crowd makes this weekend a big theft weekend.”
Even if this weekend isn’t big on sales, it definitely helps the local snowboard moral. The Open never falls short of getting the local kids stoked on riding. “The Open may not help us in sales, but it gets the local kids pumped on riding, and that’s good for the scene,” Whittemore says. “Jeremy Jones was in the store signing autographs, getting all the kids amped. That’s where it’s at-kid’s don’t care who wins ten-thousand dollars.”
For the season as a whole, local shops couldn’t keep the goods on the shelves. Thanks in no small part to three, twenty-plus inch dumps, something to brag about in southern Vermont.
“This is definitely the best year in sales our store has ever had in the five years or so we’ve been open,” Whittemore says grinning ear to ear. “It’s been cold, it’s been dumping, and people have been buying.”
Pipe Dreams had already surpassed its projected seasonal gross of 150-thousand dollars by early March. Next year, the shop will bump up its orders fifteen percent. Syd and Dusty’s, however, with an inventory that’s already 70 percent Burton, won’t be changing its orders.
As one of the country’s largest Burton dealers, Syd and Dusty’s gets to preview all of next year’s Burton products during the Open. The 2004 product is on display, getting plenty of oohs and aahs, but the shop will have to wait to sell it just like everybody else.
After a nineteen-year stint at Stratton, there are rumors of moving the US Open to a new location for next year. But, if you’re looking for a petition to sign against the relocation, Stratton’s snowboard shops may not be the first place to look.