Today’s reader question:
I’m going snowboarding this coming season (Whistler!) and my friends told me it’s cheaper to get my snowboard gear in the city, instead of when I visit the ski resort. Is this true?
This is a tricky one because in some cases it’s true and in other cases it’s not.
Is there a price difference between city based snowboard shops and shops at ski resorts?
I’ve found that at bigger resorts such as Whistler, there aren’t any major differences in pricing. There are few decent sized snowboard shops in Whistler and all of them seem to follow the pretty standard pricing model for snowboard gear.
The pricing is as follows: Close to full price at the start of the season with increasing discounts as you get to the end of the season. This is the same as every other snowboard shop in the closest city, Vancouver.
Bigger resorts tends to have decent sized snowboard shops that try to be competitive with their pricing, which is why the prices are basically the same whether I buy my snowboard gear in Whistler or drive down to Vancouver’s snowboard shop district to buy my gear.
Is this how it is for all ski resorts?
No. There are definitely resorts where I’ve seen snowboard gear overpriced. This is usually at ski resorts which are either relatively small or only have one real snowboard shop.
Lack of competition at some ski hills usually means the snowboard shops can price their gear whatever they want and the tourists still buy it.
The bottom line – where should I buy my gear?
So basically the general rule is if it’s a bigger resort with more established snowboard shops, then you’re usually going to get the same prices you get at every other snowboard shop in the cities.
However, I say you should play it safe and just get your gear locally before you get to the ski resort (unless there’s no decent local snowboard shops where you live).
One thing to consider is that even in a big resort like Whistler, there’s still sometimes a lack of variety in the gear available.
You’ll find that big names like Burton and K2 are always easy to find while less popular (but just as good) brands like GNU or Arbor can be harder to find in a large variety of models and sizes.
There’s really no downside in playing it safe and just buying all your gear at one of your local snowboard shops before heading to the ski resort, unless you’re trying to save on travel costs. Either way you’ll have to bring your gear back on the return journey anyway.
Hope that answers your question.
ps – one thing I will suggest is if you need gear once you’re already at the ski resort, check out the local classifieds. There are usually local pros trying to get rid of their spare sponsored gear. It’s usually new and priced at a steal.