In tough times, there may be even some die-hard skiers who are reluctant to pay just for the chance to look at equipment.
But Park City Ski Team director Jesse Hunt insists, if the budget is tight, that the club’s 37th annual ski swap next month is worth skipping a movie or snack.
“It’s one of the biggest in the country,” he said. “We’ve got a new building and about 10,000 square feet of space right off Kimball Junction that is easy to get to. It really will be a great selection.”
A variety of such events taking place in the Salt Lake City area in the next few weeks are hoping to cash in on snow lovers who want to find good deals, or perhaps sell their old equipment for some pocket money or to possibly upgrade. Equipment sales, in general, were down last year nationally, so the expectation is that older-model equipment will be available at discounted prices (especially high-end goods) as retailers make room for new merchandise.
Participation numbers at resorts tended to sag, as well, though there’s an anticipated uptick this year. The early-fall cold temperatures—and even some Sept. 30 snow— could get some people to open their wallets. “Ski swaps are one of the best ways to keep skiing and snowboarding affordable,” said Ski Utah President Nathan Rafferty. “Snow is certainly around the corner and now is the time for locals to gear-up and get ready for another amazing Utah winter.”
It’s still recommended by local shop owners, who tend to agree swap meets are a good thing, to get an expert’s help at sizing. Hunt said all of the admission proceeds go directly to the Park City ski team, which is a 30-year-old community program that continues to funnel some of its best talent to the national roster. Admission is $8 on Friday, $5 on Saturday and $2 on Sunday.
Another big swap is hosted by Rowmark, the Rowland Hall ski academy, on Oct. 16-17 at the McCarthey Campus Fieldhouse. Besides taking a 25 percent commission (Park City’s takes 30), there will be a $5 admission fee Friday but no fee the following day. Rowmark is about to celebrate its 30th year, and their swap organizers are trying to develop this year’s event into an expo with information and vendors.
Other ski swap sites will focus on trading, or customers selling and trying to upgrade as if this were the recent cash-forclunkers experiment in the car industry.
With entertainment dollars being held tighter by families, local ski resorts and vendors are trying to cash in on a recent upswell of praise directed toward local establishments. Four Utah resorts were ranked in the top 10 by Ski Magazine—more than any other state—and three of those resorts were seated in the top five for the critical quality du jour: “Value.” (Powder Mountain came in at No. 2, Alta one spot behind, and Brighton was fifth).
Locals, of course, aren’t the only skiers the Utah industry is after. Resorts and their marketing departments believe that last summer’s changes to Utah’s unusual liquor laws will better serve the state’s tourist coffers this winter. Despite it not being the ideal time to pump money into projects, several resorts have placed bets on the plusses of the area’s social-life changes by refurbishing various parts of their infrastructures—amenities and services mainly—to try and build up clientele.
“There will be some screamin’ deals around,” said Sarah Getzelman, who oversees the Rowmark program. “We think more people will be around looking to upgrade, especially as the weather started cool this fall. That gets people ready to hit the slopes.”
Rowmark Ski Swap, McCarthey Campus Fieldhouse, 801-355-3943, Oct. 16-17. Rowmark charges 25 percent commission. Rowmark.org
Black Diamond Store, 2092 E. 3900 South, 801-278-0233, Oct. 17, 8 a.m.-noon
Park City Ski Team Swap, Basin Recreation Field House at New Park, 1388 New Main St., Kimball Junction, 435-649-8749, Nov. 6-8. ParkCitySkiTeam.org
Park City Snowboard Team Snowboard Swap, 1251 Kearns Blvd. 435-659-1175, Oct. 23-25. PCSBT.org
St. Lawrence Thrift Stores Annual Ski Sale Park and Recreation Building, 90 N. 100 West, Heber City, 435-657-0209, Nov. 6-8.
Soldier Hollow Pre-winter Ski Sale, Soldier Hollow Legacy Foundation Lodge, Midway, 435-654-2002, Nov. 6-7, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.