Holy Gear Batman!
I think we all realized that Covid was going to bring some challenges to all of us, probably not as many or as much as we thought, but I bet one thing most didn’t anticipate is the shortage of snowboard hard gear available. So, what caused this and is there anything you can do about it?
Many people discovered, or rediscovered, snow sports this season since it was one of those things you could actually do and be safer naturally. I mean what other sports is it the norm to wear gloves and masks. Social distancing comes naturally when you consider snowboard lengths as well as skier’s jousting lances (otherwise known as ski poles). It’s obviously outside where transmission is much lower. About as perfect of a Covid activity as you could get.
Unfortunately, many companies were closed down for periods of time and manufacturing was delayed or reduced in many cases. This caused additional shortages in availability and quantities for businesses to purchase. Many retail outlets, both online and store fronts, purchased less than they normally do due to the huge unknowns as to whether we were even going to have open resorts and when they did finally decide to open, that it was going to be at reduced capacities. These things increased the belief that they should purchase at reduced quantities from previous years.
For these reasons and many more, hard gear for sale was hard to come by and often expensive and rarely discounted. At the end of the season, you didn’t see the big 50% sales that we’ve seen in season’s past. For those that needed specialized gear, especially to replace something during the season, they found it extremely difficult to find it and then if they got lucky, to afford it. When you are a competitive snowboarder and can’t just get the average all mountain board, boot, and/or binding, the challenges just got harder. By the end of the season, there wasn’t much left on the shelves in your local stores and online wasn’t looking much better. Soft boot snowboard riders were feeling what hard boot riders have felt for years, the difficulty of being lucky to find gear regardless of affordability.
The laws of supply and demand were felt by many, but those that pinch their pennies to afford the ability to compete felt it most of all and could continue to feel it next season. Many riders, especially those young riders that often outgrow gear every year, struggled or will be struggling when the new season rolls around. Most of those parents depend on the ability to be able to purchase previous season gear at a discount are going to realize that what is out there is, in the best case limited, in the worst case, nothing may be left of the kind of gear they need and if it is it is doubtful that it will be at the 40-60% off we have seen in previous seasons.
So, what do you do:
Be frugal with your gear from the previous year and see if you can get another season out of it before it has to be replaced, and only replace what absolutely has to be replaced. ( I know I am a terrible example to follow for this suggestion)
If you’re old enough, get a job this summer, or if you already do that see if you can work some extra hours. They are help wanted signs everywhere.
If you’re not old enough to get an “official” job, but old enough to earn money in your neighborhood, advertise in your subdivision or community to do things like yard work, cleaning, pet sitting, dog walking, baby-sitting, etc. Help your parents with competition expenses. You might find it even gives you more pride in competing when you have some skin in the game, but it will definitely give you a better understanding, and hopefully appreciation, in the cost being shelled out for you to ride and compete.
Put a swap/sale together with your team or go big and maybe do one on social media. When you get like-minded people together that often purchase similar gear throughout the year, you probably can find what you need and/or have something someone else needs. (This will probably be more helpful for gear for the younger set that outgrows in a season, and not those older like me, unless we just didn’t personally like something). This also opens you up to trade or sell gear to help fund your new purchases.
Hunt the trader sites (e.g. Facebook’s Alpine Snowboard Trader, Snowboard Trader, Kid’s Snowboard Trader, SBX Snowboard Trader, and www.alpinesnowboarder.com).
When it comes to big items like boards, let your coaches know. They often talk to other coaches all over the country and might hear of something someone has for sale.
Lastly, be prepared to buy early and pay full price (hence the #2 and #3 steps above).
Good luck hunting for gear, and “may the odds be ever in your favor”!