By Leah Stassen

TransWorld SNOWboarding Business hit the road this winter to visit shops and get a real sense of what’s going on in the marketplace. Utah was the first stop in mid March.

Salt Lake City has been a snowboarding hub for years, and there are many shops addressing the market. Most this year cited the lack of early snow, the opening of new shops, and the Olympics as problems in the market. Despite these downfalls, there are also some bright spots.

Here’s what one had to say:

Salty Peaks, Salt Lake City

What was the overall vibe of sales this season?

Shop Business is down a little this year, says President and Founder Dennis Nazari. “Between a bad snow season, a tough economy, the Olympics, and more and more shops opening in the area¿its been a hard season.” Even so Nazari is the first one to point out it’s going to be a regulating year for many in the area, a bad year can bring on a natural survival of the fittest when it comes to shops in the area.

The many factors of the current season played a part on Nazari’s buying decisions for 2002/03 and Salty Peaks will be ordering slightly lower numbers than in previous years. “It’s better to be clean and looking for product than to be overstocked,” says Nazari. Pointing to the shortened buy/sell cycle during the current year, Nazari believes being cautious and buying smart will help his shop power through slower season.

Even so, Salty Peaks will still be bringing in a few new brands for next winter to help fill in the holes of companies whose orders have not been renewed. As a strong supporter of the snowboard industry, Salty Peaks will stay with snowboard-specific brands, adding newcomers Rome and Jeenyus to its shelves. The apparel department however, will not be making any changes. “We’re sticking with the same line-up we’ve had in the past,” says Nazari. “Everything was pretty stagnant at SIA in the outerwear line¿nothing felt fresh.”

For boots and bindings, Salty Peaks will bring in the newly debuted Osiris boot line along with many of the high-end Northwave’s. In the binding department Nazari plans to bring in some of the new P1 bindings from Burton along with many of Drake models.

What are the major issues you see happening this year in the industry?

“Distribution,” says Nazari. In addition to the usual shop concerns about brand over-saturation in the snow markets, Salty Peaks founder is also concerned about internet sales. Namely, how retailers can better use the internet as a tool to help them sell products while maintaining clean distribution channels.