Well the weather has been really nice for the last month or so. Nice if you don’t like new snow that is! Nice if you don’t care about selling ski gear that is! Nice if you want to go bike riding or golfing that is! Oh well, I guess that’s why I have been doing a bit of bike riding and golfing. I wish I was writing about an epic powder day but I am not. The season is grinding to a sunscreen protected twilight that will probably end in Tahoe at the end of April if nothing changes. Even if we get a get a big storm, not that many people will head up to ski as I think many people have mentally converted to a spring/summer mindset. Tahoe residents wake up every day to snowpack all around them. They are still in winter mode. Down here we wake up to sunshine and mild temperatures. Lot’s of customers ask “if there is any snow left” at Lake Tahoe? Out of sight, out of mind. Yesterday I did a summer storage wax for a customer. It was the first one this year but they will be coming in regularly at this point. We have great prices and have brought in a bunch of closeout skis and boots but sales are a bit slower now and after the spring break rental returns, the rental department will be pretty lonely. I figure there is at least a month more business and 6-8 more ski days for me. Since we have a bit more free time we will use it wisely to do a full inventory count one category at a time. Then we will shift into spring cleaning and summer project mode. I am guessing that we will see Tahoe resorts close down at the end of the month for the most part. We may even be skiing at Mammoth for our final romp in early May. I hope not but that may be the case. It is strange to have an event like the staff Mammoth trip hanging out there. It is super fun so I kind of want it to be soon but as a business owner, I want it to be in June instead of May. Torn between two lovers? Wow, that was corny- on that note I’m off to the “office”…
As you can see from the photo, Rebecca was pretty happy to be sking in Utah. We all were. We were able to ski with Peter Keelty of www.realskiers.com fame on Monday and Tuesday and that was great. Peter combined a passholders tour of the resort with some great instruction each day. Monday at Deer Vallay was great with 6 of us. Tuesday at Alta with 7 in the group was great too. Wednsday we made a great decision and went back to Alta with a smaller group of 4. Todds dad’s rental boots were fine so that was great. We were sking the greatest snow on earth and that was great. Both resorts we went to had no snowboarders and that is great. Todd picked all the resteraunts which were all great. I saw really great moguls for the first time in a while. We were all on gear that we think is great. The greatest thing however is being able to share these great things with people you enjoy spending time with and enjoying the experience together. SOOO glad I was able to take my daughters. They are simply the funniest and most fun girls on the planet. Throw Todd into the same room and I feel like I am watching a sitcom. Great times!
The Reno trade show has come and gone. I am now home contemplating various decisions that I made and packing to go to Utah on Sunday. I brought home some fresh new Head Mojo 94’s to mount up and take on the trip, so that’s exciting! Negotiations in Reno went well. A few new faces on our sticks will include a Palmer model (won’t sell many but it is just SO awesome!), two models of Line skis, Full Tilt boots, POC helmets, and some new clothing lines. John and I had a great time amoung all the candy and brought home some Fischer race skis, the Mojo’s, a pair of boots, a POC helmet and various other items. Leaving the building with all our loot we took some ribbing from various sales reps about having to pack up more goodies than them! The trip was mostly business but as is my way I always try to have a bit of fun as well. Tuesday night we went to a WWSRA sponsored party for cocktail and dinner with Brad our Stockli rep. There we closed the place down with “Alvie” from Rossignol, Neil from Sun Valley Ski tools, and Steve Baugh of Scott (as well as the namesake of “Baugh’s bowl” in Grand Targhee). At the end the group of us was standing around one of the tables after everyone else had left. When the hotel staff cleared out the mess and eventually took away the kegs we all moved on to the Brews brothers bar. There we continued our Merriment and about 11:30 added Tequila to the group fun. Somewhere along the way I literally bumped into Doug Yeggy. He is one of my closest friends and lives in Chico. Doug was more than happy to join the fun. After a number of rounds of shots we headed up to John and my room for a final session of war stories. At about 2:15 the final hangers on gave in. All except Alvie. He went to have breakfast before bed. What a great group of people there are in the ski industry! A special thanks to Alvie for taking so much abuse about all things French the entire evening. All in good fun of coarse!
Tuesday night was all work as John helped me make the tough decisions. A few tweaks will be made over the next month or so, but I now have a picture of the product mix for next year and it will be stronger than ever before. Now there are o few days of work at the shop and then Todd, his father, myself and both my daughters will be ripping up the slopes of the state with the greatest snow on Earth! Hopefully I will get in a few turns with Peter Keelty from Realskiers.com and Tony Hedgecock who is the Western sales manager of Head. Appropriately we will be skiing a Head Mojo 94 (me), a Head iM88 (Todd), a Head iM78 (Todds dad), a Head Wild Thang (daughter Rebecca), and a Fischer Vision Vapor (daughter Jennifer). At least Tony will know that we are comitted to his brand! I’ll let you know how it went when I get back.
So in this wacked out industry it’s time to buy for next year. I leave for Reno for three days tomorrow and by the end I will have turned in my orders for next years inventory. Yes, a month ago I first saw it, a few weeks ago I tried the skis, and tomorrow I go to place my orders for next year. I think it is appropriate that the show is in Reno since I will basically be rolling the dice. Two big question marks: 1)It has been sunny and warm for a few weeks now. Will winter return with a vengence and clean out lot’s of inventory, or will March be warm and sunny and pretty much end the sales season? and 2) How will the economy/weather treat me next year?
On both points you can guess what I would like to have happen. The real question is “do I feel lucky”? If I go conservative on the buy I am safe but risk losing sales because I will run out of inventory items. If I go for it and commit to more product I can reap the benefits of a huge year (That’s exactly what happened this year) but I could also end the year with too much carry over and no cash. That means boiled potatoes all next summer instead of steak (or at least hamburger)! A few years of bad choices in a row and I could be the next independant retailer to disapear. That would suck for me and I believe for you and indeed for all of America too. Therefore, if you have any inside information regarding the rest of this season or next years weather, please let me know. Untill I hear from you I will simply be driving up the hill, putting down my money, and hoping for a blackjack. Wish me luck!
Well I had four days last week to decide what is what with next years skis. I didn’t get to ski everything I would have liked to, but I got to ski a lot of skis! We covered all our current brands models as well as heavy time on Blizzard, and some models from Scott, Movement, Amplid, Hart, Rossi, K2, Salomon, Atomic, Line and others. What a great event and a super fun experience. Thanks to Will Lachenaur and the rest of the WWSRA delegates as well as the WWSRA employees for putting it on.
What I cannot figure out is why more dealers don’t show up. It is amazing to me that dealers order skis without skiing them! The sales reps do all they can to make these events fun and easy but still the turnout is probably less than half what it should be. Why anyone would skip a few days of skiing on the products you will be selling next year, going to free parties with all the food and beer you want, a chance to talk shop with your peers, and then ski with Ingrid Backstrom, Jessica Sobolowski, and other “celebrity” skiers is beyond me. It’s one of those things that make you go hmmmm…
Anyway, we skied lot’s. About ten testers from Calskico filled out test cards for everything they skied. The test cards will be put into an excel spreadsheet for my use (thanks David B) and then sent off to Realskiers.com for inclusion in their ski test database. I think we covered about a hundred skis. Most models have multiple cards. Brian at Mammoth and Christian at Kirkwood share my boot legnth, so that is who I typically skied with. That way we could do a few runs and then trade skis without readjusting the bindings. At Mammoth we skied in packs of 4-6 so we could really get a lot of testing done. At Kirkwood we broke off more into ski catagories and did personal comparisons. Christian and I took Ladies skis and 95-100mm waist models.
Highlights of the Demo:
Stockli XXL, Palmer carving ski, Head iM78 chip, Fisher Watea line, Fischer Vision lineup, Elan 777, the Basque Dinner with the Fischer Crew in Garnerville NV, Showing the local hotshots how to play foosball with my Dalbello/Elan rep Will Lachenauer at the watchtower bar, Amplid C7 carving ski, the new Scot Schmidt model from Stockli (Please don’t soften the tip if you are listening Scot).
It was nice to talk with and ski with other dealers as well. I don’t think it is a coincidence that I did see Jim from The Starthaus, Christian Denis from Elite Feet, the Footloose gang and other representation from what I consider to be the better shops. Christian and I always seem to find we have similar viewpoints on matters having to do with sliding down hills on sticks. I only wish I could ski like him! It must suck to be on the slope at squaw a few hours every day!
Special thanks to Robin Barnes from Heavenly, Blake Yeamans and Guy for their input on the test.
Overall I was VERY pleased with our lines for next season. I’ll post our test results when they are compiled.
Wednesday was great. I Skied the Stockli Scot Schmidt vs. the Scott Mission vs. the Head iM 88 in the morning. The Schmidt is magical. Afternoon was the Head iM78 vs. the Fisxher Race SC. Since the Race SC is my personal ski I really enjoyed a half day on them. We had a great time skiing everything thet Sugar Bowl had to offer. Brian joined NASTC for the secong half of the day for some backcountry training, He was impressed with the instruction and went back Thursday for more fun with NASTC including drop runs down to Donner Lake. All in all it was SUPER FUN!
Next week, however, the testing becomes serious. Next week we test the 2008/09 crop of skis and have to make some serious decisions. Testing is split between Nortern and Southern California this year. Southern is in Mammoth followed by Northern at Kirkwood. I will do both. Monday through Thursday next week will be the time to make decisions that will dictate next years ski wall- and with it my economic future. No stress… yeah right!
Brian, Becky and myself will go to Mammoth. Christian. Heather, Becky, Todd and others will join us at Kirkwood. John is out of the loop with a bad knee. Otherwise almost everyone will have some input. In addition, our regimin for testing will change a bit as we will be filling out cards for the Realskiers.com reviews. Peter has a slightly different testing scorecard setup, but we should easily assimilate.
A few weeks after the Demo I go to Reno and put in the orders for skis. The skis show up in August and we have our big kick-off sale. Then we see what skis sell well throughout the season. That is our business cycle, and the next week will point me towards decisicons that will have a big impact on my life. In the end all I know how to do it is to ski the skis, choose what will work best in the various catagories, and buy them.
Wish me luck!