Around any major metropolitan area during the preseason there’s usually some form of a giant sale full of every kind of snowboarding equipment you could ever want and probably some you don’t. Shops, reps, vendors, resorts, and the general public all congregate on these sales looking to buy/sell products, pick up tickets, and get the stoke fired up to eleven. Over the years I’ve worked plenty of these events to know that it truly is unlike any other spectacle you could ever be the part of. There really aren’t any words that could sum it up and do the justice that it deserves.
The big thing to understand when working one of these sales is that being sober and getting sleep will get you through it, that is a myth. Myth number two is that it should be a dry event, fuck no you want a bar as close to you as possible not only does it loosen the potential customers up, but when you’ve finally realized in the first hour that it’s going to suck you can venture off and pound down some energy drinks with adult spirits. Shitty food is always a bonus at these places but if a roach coach or some kind of crappy cafetorium isn’t present be prepared for wax covered donuts and crappy pizza to be your staple foods. Bonus points if you eat the left over pizza for breakfast the next morning while downing some Red Bull and Vodka at 9 a.m.
Now on to the critters you’ll be talking to and yes I use the term critter because all sorts of creatures come out of the woodwork for an event like this. Sure you’ll get the typical customer that just wants shred gear and the easy in and out, these are the best. But alas not everyone is easy and if we’ve learned one thing about this world genetic misfires happen so sometimes those with extra chromosomes will pay a populated area a visit. Here’s a break down of what types of people you can expect to see:
- The mom who is convinced her 13 year old son that is bigger than Yao Ming is going to grow and wants something he can grow into. Lady all those added growth hormones you gave Jr. in his milk have caused him to be a fucking Sasquatch seriously he’s not going to grow anymore! There’s no reason to give him gear that’s 10 sizes too big.
- The washed up local “pro” that will tell you that company X’s worst piece of equipment they ever made (think Switch step-ins or K2 Clickers) are the greatest thing ever and argues his point till you’re five pints of Vodka Red Bull deep. He’ll then go on to name drop someone that hasn’t been with the company or in snowboarding since Ronald Regan was president. The best claim though that he can make is how he needs something “high end” or “high performance” cause he still gets radical the 2 days a year he rides and he’ll stress how much he rides to you like there is no tomorrow.
- The annoying girl that just wants to look good will consume your time and throw a bitch fit if her Rainbow butterfly tramp stamp doesn’t match her thong, outerwear, bra, dildo, and set up. Most people want comfort and functional gear right? With her she wants to look good and if that means cramming her fat cankle into a boot 7 sizes too small she’s going to do it cause she’s on a mission to lodge pimp harder than the food court gangster.
- Next up in the menagerie of miscreants is the dumb redneck. This guy wants it used, abused, and preferably cheap. He’s got a budget for his gear but has no problem buying Schlitz by the 30 rack and Marlboro Reds unfiltered like a kid at the candy store. Snowboard boots? Who needs those he’s got steel toes from Cabellas. Outerwear fuck that noise he’s got snow camouflage for when he’s off molesting his sister in the woods I mean killing Bambi’s mom.
- Oh who can forget the cidiot, this guy takes his fashion cues from Ed Hardy. Rhinestones, flash, and crappy tattoos get him off. The more you can make his shit look like a pussy at a biker bar the better. He’s the male equivalent of the annoying matchy-matchy girl. Only problem is he’s from the city and he knows someone who knows someone that is sponsored, a rep, or works in marketing for a company so he can get a proform. Expect lots of haggling from this twat only for him to suck it up and just buy the exact set up he said he could get from a friend for cheaper.
- The alpha couple, chances are one person in this pairing needs gear. Cool that shouldn’t be a problem right? Oh no it shouldn’t be, but alas one of these fucks is so castrated they can’t tell you what they need. Enter the dominate partner who will tell you what they need, exactly what they’re feeling when trying on boots, and then why they shouldn’t get any of the options you’ve presented them. In fact they don’t buy anything and top dog is pissed off that somehow you wasted their time.
- The Kooky rep/company owner. They usually only make an appearance at swaps like Ski Dazzle. You can spot them a mile away with their overly large booth of people that don’t snowboard. Think of Bitch Boards at this one. The gear is set to match and that’s about it. Tech specs, actual product knowledge, and an understanding of snowboarding just don’t exist. On a plus side they usually have the best food to steal cause heaven forbid they thrive on a diet of energy drinks and pizza. This is also where the cidiot and annoying matchy-matchy girl usually buy gear from.
- Oh who can forget the relic hunter. No this isn’t some Tia Carrere knock off hunting around for antiques, this is the grandparent that cleaned out some gear that’s a solid 40 years old and tried to bring it in for the consignment area. Once viewed by the people behind the counter they realized it was about as safe as living a new born in an asbestos crib covered in lead paint. Upon this denial of selling their gear they’ll post up just off premise to try and sell it. They’d have a better chance of dying than actually making any money off this crap.
Over the years I’ve encountered every various critter that could come through a swaps doors. Some have been better than others. Then there’s the memorable ones that no matter what you do you can’t repress them. Hence the need for copious amounts of alcohol. Possibly these events could be the most feared thing any shop employee could ever subject themselves to, heating up a lifty’s snowboard boots after they’ve been in them for 14 hours would be a close second.