If you’re not going a) camping, b) to the beach, or c) back-to-school shopping, may I suggest hitting one of the big preseason ski and snowboard sales happening across the country?
You’ll be glad you did.
Shop and Save
Preseason and Labor Day sales are when retailers move out their demo and rental stock from last year, and mark down brand-new, last season skis, boards, bindings and boots. Since there are rarely significant changes in technology, especially for kids, buying from last season’s stock is a solid way to save some cash.
Last season’s coats, pants and other soft goods are usually on sale, too, making this the perfect time to stock up. You know your child will need base layers this season, next season and into the future. Why not buy several sizes?
Even if Labor Day has come and gone, many stores keep their prices discounted through September. This often includes new, current season gear and clothing. Come October, the prices start going back up as the winter approaches.
Swap and Save
If your local shop or big sports retailer isn’t having a Labor Day sale (or perhaps you’re at the beach), check the dates for your resort’s annual ski and board swap. Swaps are another good place to find significant markdowns on previous season equipment.
One of the biggest swaps in Colorado is at Winter Park. This year, the Winter Park Ski and Board Swap takes place on October 11-12. Close to 60 vendors are expected, including the big names in winter sports, as well as individuals and families selling their outgrown and unwanted gear.
If your child participates in a racing program, look for barely used race and freestyle skis. Swaps are also a fun place to meet up with friends, enjoy some food and donate to a good cause. Most swaps charge vendor fees and entrance fees, which are often donated to local race clubs, ski patrol or a charity.
Just remember: Get to the swap as early as you can. The best deals go quickly.
Click and Save
Shopping online is another fantastic way to find deals on last season’s coats, pants and other ski and ride gear. When our boys were young, one of our go-to sites was Yellowturtle.com. Other sites to check out include Winterkids.com and Backcountry.com.
If you’re shopping for skis or snowboards, know what you’re looking for in terms of performance, style and size. Do some homework. Read some reviews and check the rankings.
Then when you’ve found a website that has what you want, call and ask questions, suggests Kayla Barnett of Ohio’s Aspen and Ski and Board Company.
Ideally, you’ll find someone who will knowledgeably answer your questions, make suggestions and help you find the best gear, and the best deal, for your child.
Rent and Save
Rentals are an excellent option if your family skis or rides only a few times per season or if your kids are growing fast.
While junior performance rentals and demos can be tricky to find, beginner and intermediate skis and boards are readily available for a day, a week or the entire season.
If you are looking for season rentals, now is the time to act for the best selection and pricing. For example, Utah’s Ski ‘N See rents full junior packages for $79 or $99, but only through the end of September.
Also, look for trade-in purchase programs for kids, like the one at Aspen Ski and Board Company. Junior packages are available for $219 or $279. When your child outgrows the gear, trade it in and receive $100 off your next package.
What other suggestions do you have for saving on kids’ ski and snowboard equipment? Where do you shop? What websites have you found that offer great deals?
- Gear Junkies: Gear Strategy, Part One, August 10, 2010.
- Swap, Talk and Click: Gear Strategy, Part Two, August 12, 2010.
- Trade, Borrow and Beg: Gear Strategy, Part Three, August 17, 2010.
- One Deal at a Time: Gear Strategy, Part Four, August 19, 2010.
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