We did a really unscientific poll on Facebook the other day, asking why people choose to shop online instead of locally. It’s tempting to just go online these days whether your just busy or for some other reasons. But it’s important to support shops that are part of your community, because without local shops we will eventually be stuck in a world that’s nothing but big box stores and online warehousers, and I don’t think that’s what anyone wants.
Anyways here are the most common reasons people shop online and I’m also going to offer some alternatives.
Online Stores Have the Best Prices… This was the most common reason for shopping online. Warehousers do a great job of convincing you that they’re saving you a ton of money but that is usually not the case. Sure there are big savings to be had on past-season’s gear but with rare exception you’ll only save a few bucks in sales tax on in-season gear, since retail prices are mostly set by the OEM/contract.
I know it feels good to “save” money, there have been studies done that prove this. But you know what else feels good? Peeling a fresh deck out of the factory plastic for the first time or getting a new pair of boots (new boot smell > old boot smell). If you’re waiting for something to go on sale, chances are your shop is not going to have it anymore. What’s better, maybe saving $50 on a board or would you rather just get the board a few months earlier and be able to enjoy it longer?
If you are worried about price most shops will price match in-stock items. You just need to grow up and don’t be afraid to ask them. Trust me they would rather knock $30 off the price of that board or throw in a free DVD than lose your business altogether.
Online Stores Have a Better Selection… This is also a common reason; especially for women and for guys that are odd sizes – very tall or very short or very large boots, etc. Or sometimes you just have your heart set on a specific item that your local shop doesn’t have or can’t get because everything is pre-ordered these days.
Obviously there are the online warehousers and they usually have whatever you need, but the internet is also full of small shops from around the country some of which might have your item in-stock, like Jack’s Board House in Oregon where I finally found my Blacklist late last season when everyone else was sold out. These shops are simply someone else’s local shop.
Sure, they’re a little harder (honestly it is going to take you like 2 minutes on Google to find these) to find rather than just taking the easy route and ordering from some warehouse site but this way you can support someone else’s core shop even if you can’t support your own.
I don’t have a local shop (or, I have one but it sucks balls)… If you live near the mountains it’s easy to forget how rough it is elsewhere. I grew up with two options which I think are probably all too common:
- A ski shop that grudgingly sold snowboards out of the basement right next to their tuning area.
- A skateboard shop that puts snow stuff on display for 3 months a year.
The kids that end up working at these gigs don’t know the product very well, and don’t relate to customers very well. I can throw a rock in any direction and pretty much hit a ski hill, so I can only imagine what it’s like in Nashville or St. Louis or Charlotte. If you’re forced online because of this you can use some of the tips above to support local/independent shops even if you don’t have one of your own.