Seems more and more people are finally realizing something that I said months ago and that is that we need to support our local shops. The internet is choking the progression of our local scenes. JB over at South of the North has this to say.
All I could say was “Holy shit.” Six months ago I was trying on a pair of DC Smith 2.0 sneakers in Active Ride Shops newest San Diego location while in town for ASR. Yesterday I was reading about Active filing for bankruptcy. You can read the gory details of debtors over on Shop-Eat-Surf.com. But to me there is a larger issue at hand and it’s pretty much time we talked about it without worrying about hurting feelings or backlash. I have several friends that own shops on the East Coast and I’m always excited when I walk into a skate or snow shop that is going their own non-big box route. These shops are disappearing at an alarming rate. The economy may be down, the discounts online may be deep but as skaters and snowboarders we need to be held accountable for nurturing our own scene. That includes supporting local shops.
I’ve written quite a bit how online stores are great and how efficient they can be which is great for the consumer. However, now I’m more concerned about the backlash effect. When you go and purchase online it takes money out of the pocket of your local shop. In some areas shop owners aren’t all that keen to building the scene and for them it’s business. The other side of the same coin is the shop owner who tries to grow skateboarding or snowboarding by putting on events, movie premiers and contests. Sure it’s an extension of marketing their business but without growing the audience they won’t stay in that business. without the shop the scene loses a vital local touchpoint to sustaining itself. Do you think a dot-com will come down to your local town and lobby for funds to build a skatepark? Maybe you can get all the local business owners together. Best of luck with that. Most likely it’s not going to happen. This is where the shop comes into play as local business that is taxed and has a say in community affairs. Your local shop becomes a bridge between you and the powers that be.
Addin insult to injury was the one-two punch of today. This came after finding out about Active in the form of seeing Syndrome Distribution selling decks direct with free shipping and grip for $49.99. For local shop owners this was another kick in the balls from a company that should be working with them in the difficult times. I fully understand that manufacturers need to get rid of product but if we reverse engineer that cost I’m sure there are shops that would buy those Plan B boards at a much deeper discounted price. Overall, pretty disappointing that this was flown under the radar and not even communicated to shop owners. I would not be stocking Plan B decks right now.
So this is where it’s time for me to put my money where my mouth is. I’m a big fan of buying things off the interweb for skating and snowboarding because it saves me money. Time for me to be realistic about what I need and what my skate and snowboarding community needs. Yep, time to take responsibility. So I’m returning my latest package back to Brociety.com. No need for me to peruse the shred dog closeouts on Sierra Snowboards. Moving forward I’ll only buy what I need and if I purchase online it will be from a site that’s foundation still is rooted in a brick and mortar location. Alpine Ski Shop, Skate Park of Tampa, Active, Elite Boardshop, Palace 5ive, and Arrival Boardshop will all be getting my money as needed. if you have to go online to pack up why not reduce the waste, recycle brand new in box kicks or pass along the support by using a product like Broslist.com. Then take that money and reinvest it into your own local economy.
I said it up above and I’ll say it again. My money is going to shops that support skating and snowboarding in my city and region. I hope you’ll do the same. I’m not telling you to not shop online. If you have need and budget do what you need to do but think about this: who is going to host a rail jam at your mountain or best a trick contest at a local ledge. Think about who is part of your community and who is taking your money. You aren’t without options ask about price matching ask about that free sheet of grip most shop owners will work with you. So as skaters, as snowboarders we are all in this together. There will be no bailout for us. Once these shops are gone they will not return and it’s up to all of us to make sure the scene stays alive. Remember that next time you’re about to click “buy.”
I said the same things last year before the economy got as far into the crapper as it is now. Here’s what I had to say about it back then:
Today was an interesting day for me with realizing a few things with our economy and the snowboard industry. I’ve decided that I’m going to write a multiple article cataloging my thoughts on the snowboard world and this current economy.
In this day and age it seems that people would rather buy online than go to their local shop. Unfortunately the economy has taken a huge hit and it is you that can help sustain your local shred scene by supporting your local shop.
Why should you support your local shop you ask? I’ll tell you why, unlike a online shop the money you spend with these guys goes back to your local economy. These are the guys that sponsor local events and riders. Lets say its Friday afternoon and you’re going riding but you broke some random part on your gripper grips, do you think you’ll get a replacement part from the online store in time to avoid the crisis of not having your gear for the weekend? I highly doubt that and I bet your local shop can accomodate you.
Now lets be brutally honest do you think some store that is 1,500 miles away from you cares you had a bad day on snow? I doubt it like seriously highly doubt it. Snowboarding is a hands on sport why would you not shop at a store you can physically touch what you want vs having to look at it online then order it and don’t even tell me that you go in a store waste the shop peoples time and still order it online, you are part of the problem. This is especially true when it comes to buying boots as you should be sized and try on as many pairs as you can.
I’ve heard from tons of people that their local shops price gouge them? Highly doubt that since the MSRP is dictated by the vendor and not the retailer. In the length of time I’ve been riding I’ve been in 1 shop yes thats right 1 shop that was selling product above MSRP and I’ve only seen one shop online selling a board above MSRP under the guise of it being a limited colorway. The fact is when you’re a giant snowboarding warehouse you have more inventory and can sell stuff discounted. But any shop worth its weight in gold will try to price match its just the way things have to be.
Now lets talk about something that is entirely important when buying gear, customer service. I’ve heard that online stores offer great customer service, but how is that possible? Are you physically interacting with them? No, you’re pointing and click sure they may have a forum or a chat box but I guarantee if you ask them to compare something they don’t sell to what they do they’ll 99% of the time say what they sell is better. After all they’re in it to make a sale from customer 928384723 not from (insert your name here). I’ve learned one thing in the 11 years of working in a shop if you don’t have what the person needs or wants send them elsewhere, because doing that they will come back 10 more times and tell 10 more people of how great you were at helping them locate what they needed. Customer service is what makes and breaks a shop obviously, I mean look at Tight Boards and how they’ve been doing online business. Here’s a link to an article I wrote about them last week.
You as a consumer have the power to help shape the snowboard industry and save it from becoming a direct sales environment. It is up to you to look at what is presented to you. Do you help your local scene or do you help some wanker that doesn’t ride at all. The choice is yours and you need to do it.
We’re not the only ones thinking this way either. TWS Biz’s Industry Insider has an article from Tabor the owner of Eastern Boarder. You can read that post here. That post also sparked a forum topic over on Shred Union. What more needs to be said? Other than companies need to change how they do things with shops. Consumers need to realize the value of having a good shop in their community.