Snowboard Gear: Buy Online or Buy From a Local Store?

It’s a popular debate. But why? Why are people so passionate, one way or the other, about the choice to buy all your snowboarding gear online vs. buying locally? Let’s take a look at some of the issues and try to find out why.

The local snowboarding “scene”

Supporting the local scene. It’s important to support the local snowboard scene, right? Well first of all, what exactly do we mean by a snowboarding scene?

Your snowboarding scene is made up from all the snowboarding things in the area: the riders, the instructors, the shops, the competitions and events, the prevailing brands, and the slopes themselves. They all contribute, with the overall outcome being a vibe, a feel for snowboarding, attitudes, the direction of snowboarding in that area.

Why should you support that scene? Well, as much as snowboarding is about freedom of expression, and snowboarding to you should be exactly how you want it to be, the local scene will to some degree, affect your snowboarding. There are most likely elements of your local slope/hill/resort that you really enjoy – that encourage to you return there to snowboard.

You’re part of that scene. Without all of the contributing people, the snowboarding might not be the same, snowboarding itself might not be there. So if you like it, there’s something inherently good about giving something back, about supporting the local snowboarding community.

How important are the local stores? Independent shops, small brands – they’re part of the snowboarding representation in that area. They’re not the only part, but they are important. Snowboarding enthusiasts who choose to make snowboarding their business. They will enhance or contribute to the local vibe. They will sponsor and support some of the up-and-coming riders They’ll pay attention to what the local shredders are interested in, and at the same time, will have an effect on how the local scene is shaped.

Individual snowboarding scenes from all around the world, at the grass root level, made snowboarding what it is today. Should you support that scene now?

Local vs. Global?

Is this a choice of local vs. global? Is that an issue that snowboarders are interested in? If it is, who or what makes up the global element? The big brands? The big online retailers? The online only retailers – the ones without a store presence?

Why do we shop online? Choice: the Internet let’s us use a bug range of shope, without having to travel to them. Price: whether it’s due to less costs for the shops, the ability to hunt for a saving, or something else – people think they can find a good deal online. Comfort: you can browse the shops from home. Convenience: you can shope at any time of the day.

Without delving into the wider issue of the Internet itself, it’s fair to say that the Internet makes it easier to spread information, to reach a lot of people. It’s natural for shops and businesses to use the Internet, and it’s natural for consumers to be interested by the extra choice.

Is it fair to criticise the online stores as being global, and lacking in personality or snowboarding presence? In today’s world of online social networks, there’s a lot of activity surrounding online shops and resources. Forums, questions, people getting genuine help. Maybe that’s a scene in its own right. Just a different scene?

Are we saying that the local shops and the smaller, local brands, care more about snowboarding? That we should opt to give them our business, because the larger companies and predominently-online-retailers are more bothered about business than they are snowboarding? Is that the argument?

If so, I don’t agree with that, not fully. Maybe the guy who sets up a snowboard store near the local hill is more likely to be all about snowboarding than the somewhat anonymous online store, but that’s not guaranteed.

The bigger brands and bigger online stores do provide help for snowboarders. What I think is important, is that we don’t let the snowboarding shops and brands on the ground get swept away by a global snowboard market.

Whose “scene” are we talking about?

Does this apply to you? If you snowboard once per year, on a holiday, how much a part of the scene are you? How many people are there who really enojy snowboarding, but don’t submerge themselves that deeply in it? A lot.

Perhaps this change is at the heart of the matter. Snowboarding got big, or at least, it got bigger. It’s an industry. Big brands, uber pros earning shed loads of money, massive participation. Is it mainstream now?

And not everyone likes that. A lot of people were snowboarding way-back, when it wasn’t recognised as it is now. Do big brands and big on-line retailers signify an aspect of snowboarding they maybe wish didn’t exist. They prefer the core elements of snowboarding – riders, shops, brands, styles…

But with snowboarding being what it is now, it’s only sensible to accept that a bigger snowboarding market is going to attract more sellers, more players, big-market style offerings. And for a lot of snowboarders, those that aren’t as involved with a scene as others, this situation represents good choice, savings and access.

Snowboarding isn’t big enough to be like the consumer-electronics market, in which there’s almost no personality at all. But it is good and it is going to attract people. How do we deal with that if we don’t want to lose sight of the smaller players and local organisations that make snowboarding what it is, the way we like it?

So, should you buy at the local store on on-line?

That’s entirely up to you.

I’ve got nothing against buying gear online. If you’re part of a strong snowboarding community or scene and you get a lot from it, maybe it’s nice to give something back, to support others in that community.

For many, access to snowboarding online brings them closer to snowboarding. They’re more involved, more engaged, they get stoked by snowboarding just the same. Is that anymore right or wrong than the girl who lives in resort and buys locally?

Personally: I’m not a pro, I don’t live and work in a resort, I’m not a seasonaire; but I do consider myself to be part of the snowboarding scene. I’m conscious of the benefits that I get from a local scene – despite me not being too local to it. To me, local is the UK slope that I ride at, the one store that’s within a few miles of my house, and the resorts that I like enough to return to. They’re my local outlets.

Consider the recent series on Powder Boards. If my local store didn’t offer any of those boards, I wouldn’t want to compromise my choice and buy something different. I normally ask if they can “get something in”; if they can’t, I’m going to look elsewhere, I’m looking for 1 of 4 boards.

If one of these outlets can offer me what I’m interested in, I’m happy to buy from them, I like too. My decision of where to buy is effected by a desire to support the shops, brands and companies that I like, traded against how specific I am with the purchase at hand.

That’s how I make my choice. How do you make yours?

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Comments
12 Responses to “Snowboard Gear: Buy Online or Buy From a Local Store?”
  1. Reneator says:

    I agree with all your points, but you forgot the chance to get a discount in your local shop, because they know you good, and give you a good discount (about 20% at my local shop! :D )(i dont wanna show me like i would get discounts all the time, but you can haggle better with a shop you know, and that know you, than in a foreign shop, in a big town, all anonymous.)

    The point with the influence and the feeling thats made by your local “scene” is really good and important! (also the resorts one!). *thumb up* good article! :)

    But i bought my new Board and Bindings from an online retailer, because my local shops is a little shop with only the main brands (Burton/nitro/forum maybe some ftwo) and they can’t order other brands than those they got contracts with…

    so yeah, i like to buy from my local shop, but if they doesn’t sell it i got no problemm too, buying it from a online retailer/another shop in big town.

    Cheers Reneator

  2. Reneator says:

    So it might be strange, me commenting all your article but not really somebody else^^
    You can see me as a little fan of your’s Page! :D (sounds strange if you hadn’t one before!)
    I like how you’re writing your article’s and trying to get all point of views in one, when other Pages like Angry’s are more likely written from one point of view (whats also not bad at all, just different!) (Got a crappish english! :D )

    Cheers again

    P.S In germany its deep autumn, everywhere is falling leaves because of the strong winds blowing here! ;)

  3. Reneator says:

    So ive got one more question: With what Binding setting do you ride? Binding Angle, Highback rotation/forward lean?

  4. well put gav.. I love the bit about how much part of the scene are you. when i started snowboarding i was in perth. we have one shop in our city and being about as far away from the snow as you can possible be there is no scene there and the prices are crazy expensive so it made sense for me to buy my gear online. now after doing seasons in switzerland i feel im part of the scene there and i feel what the shop does for the mountain i ride plus the way they have helped me warranty boards over the last few season they deserve my support. yes it might cost a bit more but at least i know its going to be going to the next comp or the next ride day or the next new feature in the park.

  5. Reneator says:

    I bet you dont have the time/patience to read and answere all those comments! höhö :P

  6. aalion says:

    Don’t worry reneator you are not alone ! :D

    n1 post Gav !

  7. Reneator says:

    @aalion Yiihaaa :D great! lets make a “I ride for Gavin” Fanclub!? I would like to sooo much! :D

    P.S I think we should call the british police, somebody got the number?… Gavin’s missing on this site since some Days! that can’t be normal! :D (omg.omg.omg.omg)

    Greetings Stranger!

  8. Reneator says:

    (“Greetings Stranger”: What movie/game is this from? (i not even remember it myself, but like the quote here, its so nice fitting :D )!

    So Cheers to all you Travelers, Thou come up here to this site of heaven, to Listen the Articles of Shredheaven? Thou shall be happy shredding, and thou shall have a sea of Pow to think in! (that was enough, i think, or im getting Theologistic ;) )

    nice greetings from my side!

  9. Reneator says:

    The other Possibility might be, he is all way fed up of this site and want to get rid of it, and trying to ignore it, but whats not possible because all of those intellectual and deep minded comments on this site, he cant prevail of this heavenly influence (im all on the religious side, played to much “Darksiders” everyone should have played it :D just only to hear the nice Syncro)

  10. Gavin says:

    Hey guys, sorry for the late reply ;) Since going back to work, I’m so busy, weekends got busy. Sitting at home, resting, with a broken leg for 10 weeks can get you used to having a lot of spare time!

    OK,

    @Ren I’m glad you like the post, and the style of the blog. With regards to the style, I try/hope that I’m writing about stuff people are interested in, give my point of view but also throw some others out there to get people to think and share ideas. Thanks.

    It’s strange, because the thing that I’m most picky about is my board, and I think I’ve bought all but one, which makes 6 boards, from the local store in newcastle. On reflection, the only board that I could have not bought, was the T2. I really liked it, but there were better boards out there.

    I do buy a lot of gear online though – because it simply isn’t available where I shop!

    Binding angles: +15/-15. Apart from the powder boards, which I don’t own yet, I always try to ride a twin setup that’s the same in both directions. I ride a lot of switch, although I don’t do all of my tricks switch, just some, so I like the board and me to be the same in both directions. I’m gonna put something up, maybe a post or page under the About, with some bio like that. Cheers for the idea.

    @citizensofshred Yeah it is strange. I used to ride a lot more than I do now at the snow dome at ‘cas. I knew the guys in the shop there, knew some of the people working the lifts and knew a bunch of riders. Despite it being 100 miles down the motorway, I felt part of that scene, and liked it. It’s interesting to hear the shift you got after doing some seasons and being part of a resort community. Before doing those seasons, the smart thing to do to get going with snowboarding and to get yourself setup was to look online. I don’t see how that can be wrong. That was the point I was hoping to make, so thanks!

    @aalion. Cheers mate. It was your idea for the post so I’m going to blame you – it took me a while to formulate the structure and content, and that’s taken away from my time to reply to comments :)

    Gavin

  11. I think the better you get at snowboarding, the more you appreciate the experience of others and want to get the best out of your gear. That is why is think its more likely that you will purchase gear from your local retailers rather than online, which provide you with discounts, at the expense of personal knowledge which cannot be portrayed over the internet.

  12. Gavin says:

    @TakeThePiste – I think it’s like that with many pursuits, hobbies and sports. The more you do something and the better you get at things, the more you start to appreciate different aspects of that thing. With snowboarding, be more involved does seem to prompt people to appreciate the local scene more, and then they’re encouraged, and enjoy to support others who are also passionate about snowboarding.

    Cheers, Gavin