NSSRA Member Update is transmitted via e-mail and contains news of interest to members of the National Ski & Snowboard Retailers Association.
Those of you who are not NSSRA members are encouraged to join and take advantage of the exclusive member benefits and to add your voice to those who advocate for all specialty snowsports retailers.
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Suppliers and Online Outlet Stores Partnership Threatens Retail as we Know it: An Open Letter to NSSRA Membership
I own The Ski Hut, a brick and mortar store that has been in my family for 58 years and does not sell products on the Internet. We have a professional staff that prides itself on one-on-one service with our customers. On Saturday, October 13, I spent 2 hours with a customer who was excited about getting back into skiing. We discussed the merits of various skis and boots and decided on what would work best for him, a Line Influence 105.
The boot fit was challenging but we found a boot that worked perfectly, a Salomon Quest 110. He thanked me for my help and promised to return the following week to finalize his purchase. On Tuesday, my customer was back and sheepishly asked if he could buy just the bindings and a helmet as he had found the skis and boots at the EVO outlet store online for hundreds of dollars less than I could sell them for. They were running a promotion to save an additional 20% off the already 40% discount they were advertising.
I was of course stunned and explained the MAP policy to the customer and told him I could not match the price. He explained that the equipment was last year's gear, but he was able to call both Line and Salomon and was told that the equipment changed only cosmetically from last year. He stood to save almost $400 over the current MAP price so he purchased the gear.
He thanked me for my expertise and advice and asked if I would mount his bindings and heat mold his boots. I told him I would and when his gear arrived he should bring it to the shop so we could get the binding position correct and get him fit for a helmet.
I can't blame the consumer in a case like this. Money is tight and the price was so much lower for basically the same gear he really did not have much choice. I blame our suppliers who at the end of last year's horrible winter found a way to get out from under oppressive inventories to online outlet retailers. The fact that most current models are only cosmetically changed from last year makes it doubly tough.
When a product is sold online, the overwhelming selling factor is the price. Look up your favorite ski model using Google and check out how on the right margin the lowest price pops up. In most cases this is a few dollars above current cost. Our suppliers have found a way to move inventories quickly, but at the same time found a way to de-value our entire industry.
EVO for example has hundreds of models of skis and boots in their "Outlet Store" at prices so low that no brick and mortar store with a professional staff and service department can compete. Most of this gear is 2012 model year where the MAP has expired but is basically the same as the 2013 model.
Our suppliers act like it's no big deal, like there's an unlimited amount of customers out there to absorb this glut. They also are making fools of retailers by changing a product's color, calling it new and selling it for twice the price of last year's closeout. This has to stop or our industry will go the route of fly fishing, and inline skates, not to mention home electronics. All of these are industries that have filled the Internet with product and now small, specialty stores are on life support or have simply vanished.
Snowsports retailers need to call our suppliers out when they behave so irresponsibly. I believe the industry should establish two-year MAPs, especially when products don't change. They need to control production to avoid widespread closeouts.
Our suppliers are always telling us how brick and mortar stores are the cornerstone to the sale of their products. But the reality is we are becoming showrooms for the online retailers and service departments for the online shopper especially when our suppliers allow such irresponsible pricing. We all had a bad year last year, but this year may be worse based on the glut of under-valued product on the market.
Our suppliers state how important the specialty shops are, but when they get in a tight spot, they run to a "retailer" like EVO for a bail out.
--Scott Neustel, Ski Hut, Duluth, Minn.
To all NSSRA members. We welcome your comments on this subject. Please send them via e-mail to NSSRA President Larry Weindruch, email@example.com.
Membership Renewal Deadline Is Today
It's Halloween, but this is no trick or treat. If you are among the remaining NSSRA members who haven't received your 2012-13 Combined Indemnified Bindings List, there is a reason...or perhaps two. It's possible that the list that we sent via email got lost in cyberspace.
But more likely, the reason is that your 2012-13 NSSRA membership was not renewed. Being a member, though, is much more than just the bindings list, as valuable as it is. NSSRA provides discounted services, targeted market research and aggressive advocacy for specialty snowsports retailers that can be found nowhere else. In fact, in return for your $135 dues each year, you receive benefits, programs and cost savings through NSSRA services valued at nearly $1,000.
Your continuing support of NSSRA and its initiatives strengthens a respected voice in the snowsports industry and helps provide the resources needed for the Association to carry out its initiatives to help your business grow.
If you're not sure if you have renewed your membership, please call NSSRA President Larry Weindruch, (827) 391-9825, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ten Tips for Success in Learn To Ski & Snowboard Month
Thanks to NSSRA's co-sponsorship of Learn To Ski & Snowboard Month and "Bring A Friend," your shop can reach new customers via the LSSM website, which exists to make it easy for consumers -- especially those NEW to snow sports -- to find information and resources.
This industry-wide initiative is designed to create new customers for you.
NSSRA members will be listed by state in the LSSM website's "Where to Go" section with a link directly to your shop's website.
Exposure generated by an aggressive PR campaign will help increase use of the site. LSSM also leverages industry media with the "Bring a Friend" message and motivate non-endemic media to "Celebrate" snow sports. Social media tools help spread the word.
Here are ten tips for consideration by LSSM Retailer Partners:
1. Use LSSM tool kit materials -- logo, slogan, ads, and banners -- on mailers, for posters in stores, e-newsletters, websites, etc. Tell current customers to let their friends know that January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month.
2. Create an incentive for current customers to "Bring a Friend" to the shop for an "Introduction to Skiing/Snowboarding" clinic. Use the NSSRA-branded artwork we sent you in September to create a custom-made flyer. Let new customers know about local "learn to" beginner programs at resorts. These typically include a lift, lesson, rental package. Shops can follow up with service after a customer's first experience.
3. Partner with a local resort on a LSSM program.
4. Organize a bus trip for beginners to a local resort. Again, encourage current customers to "bring a friend" on such a trip. Use the trip to inform beginners on how to dress, different kinds of equipment, safety precautions, etc. Position the shop as the "expert resource" in the community.
5. Create a special LSSM product package for participants who want to buy or long-term lease.
6. Inform employees that January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Create and distribute LSSM pins or stickers using existing artwork to reinforce the message.
7. Include LSSM flyer, post card or sticker with pre-Christmas holiday purchases by current customers to "bring a friend" for lessons during January; include follow up purchase or lease incentive.
8. Ask employees to spread the word among their own friends and family.
9. Partner with a local club to host a LSSM night in early January at the shop. Use as a way to get new customers and help the club gain new members.
10. Contact your local media in all LSSM efforts.
For more information, please contact NSSRA's Larry Weindruch, email@example.com, or LSSM's Mary Jo Tarallo, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Burton Unveils Major Brand Realignment
Burton Snowboards will phase out three snowboard brands by the end of next year, stop making surf apparel under its Analog brand and focus its Gravis brand exclusively on Asia as part of CEO and Founder Jake Burton's efforts to refocus the company on its core strengths.
Burton said the reorganization is designed to better position the company, its retail partners and stakeholders for the future. The current family of brands includes Analog, Gravis, RED, anon, Foursquare, Forum, Special Blend and Channel Islands.
Specifically, Burton announced the following changes to its structure and subsidiaries.
Analog: Over the next year, Analog will return to its roots of being a pure snowboarding brand based at its original home in Burlington, VT. Analog has a deep heritage in snowboarding and as such, will revert back to being a winter-only brand.
Gravis: Burton's Gravis brand will ultimately move its headquarters to Tokyo, Japan and moving forward will be solely distributed in Asian markets selling lifestyle shoes and bags.
Anon: In a move that Burton has been planning for several years, the company will start developing protective headwear under the anon brand name. Burton will continue to offer its RED helmets on a limited basis, but the bulk of helmet and optics product lines will be combined under the anon brand.
Program brands: Burton will transition out of its Program brands (Foursquare, Forum and Special Blend), which were purchased in 2004 with the intent to keep snowboard companies in the hands of snowboarders. Burton has supported these brands for eight years and will continue to support them over the next year through warranty service, dealer support, marketing and inventory. The company will exit out of The Program brands in winter 2014, in order to better focus on and invest in Burton.
Channel Islands: Finally, Channel Islands, which was acquired by Burton in 2006, will be unaffected by this brand realignment and will continue to design, develop and manufacture surf hardgoods products in Carpinteria, Calif.
Looking Ahead to 2013
Please mark your calendars. The NSSRA Annual Meeting will be held from 1:00-2:00 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 31, the first day of the SIA Snow Show. The exact meeting room number will be announced prior to the show, but please note the change from the traditional meeting date and time.
NSSRA Thanks Our Supporting Members
3M Trade Show Management Services
Aegis Insurance Markets
Boa Technology, Inc.
Descente North America, Inc.
Dynacraft BSC, Inc.
Fischer Skis US
Horizon Agency, Inc.
Hotronic USA, Inc.
Leisure Trends Group
M. Miller Luxury Outerwear
Snowsports Industries America (SIA)
Tecnica Group USA
Turtle Fur Group