On the eve of Black Friday, I am sitting here watching people wait in line for days and slamming through doors to get the latest Black Friday deals. Yelling at managers because they don’t have enough of the Black Friday coupons. Fighting over products. Big box retailers forcing their employees to work on Thanksgiving against their wishes. All of this over a holiday for the retailers! Black Friday doesn’t benefit you, it signifies the day that most retailers become profitable for the year. Are you surprised they make it such a big deal? It’s a holiday they created to jump start their profits! My blog post is not about the greed I see by big box retailers on Black Friday. This post is to bring attention to the army of small retailers and outdoor sports entrepreneurs who don’t get a black Friday. This group of business entrepreneurs is lucky if they get a black year (being in the “black” is a business term that references the point when a company becomes profitable for the year). Small entrepreneurs pursue a business based on their passion for their sport and not on corporate greed. This group parts from their families to work nights, weekends and holidays to make sure they are open for you to buy your equipment or rentals. This group represents families and local employees. Not many small retailers or snow sports entrepreneurs are making a ton of money. They are powered by passion and not profits.
How does that benefit you as a consumer? You get better customer service, people who know their business and product like no other because it’s their passion. You get advice that will allow you to ski or snowboard better and equipment that meets your personal needs. You get accountability for the products you buy. You help your community because the owner of your local store is going to spend his/her money locally. Next time you are considering buying a product give your local small retailer a chance. If it’s a matter of saving a few dollars to buy online, recognize there are many other benefits to buying local.
As a micro snowboard manufacturer I am closely tied into many other small snowboard and ski manufacturers and I am always astounded by their passion. I can tell you most of these companies don’t make much money at building snowboards and skis. Most of these people work second jobs, work nights or are leveraging their credit to the hilt to pursue their dream of becoming a recognizable brand. We build these skis and snowboards with our blood, sweat and tears and that is no joke! This ski and snowboard manufacturing business is brutal. Profits are slim, capital required to launch is outstanding and the competition is dominated by big manufacturers who have factories that pump out as many boards in a day that we can make in a year. I can guarantee none of us are complaining because first of all we chose it. Secondly, we have the opportunity to have a career fueled by passion.
As a consumer you may not care, but you should. How much true innovation has come out of the ski and snowboard manufacturing business in the last 20 years? The answer is very little. I have my first snowboard from 1985 that contains primarily the exact same technology that exists in snowboards today. The stagnation in snowboard and ski design is 100% due to the stagnation in the industry. Big companies don’t innovate because they don’t have to. Small and passionate companies innovate. Small companies push the envelope of design because they are more entrenched in the sport and understand how to make a product better fit the consumer.
Next time you buy a product, educate yourself on what you are buying and who is selling it to you? Who makes your product? Are they doing their part to be environmentally friendly? Where are your products made? Be a responsible consumer. If you buy strictly name brand companies you may be missing out on some of the best new innovation on the market! Micro ski/snowboard manufacturing is the future!
Supporting the small guy doesn’t only represent retailers and ski/snowboard builders. There are a host of other small local ski/snowboard entrepreneurs who have the same passion and make the same sacrifices. As examples, bloggers, local magazine companies, ski/snowboard tuners, wax makers, clothing companies, longboard companies…… just to name a few. ABC, Always Buy Colorado!
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