Swap, Talk and Click: Gear Strategy, Part Two

I love new stuff.  Who doesn’t?  I also love bargains.  Who doesn’t?  So when it comes to gathering up ski equipment for our brood, we seek a happy medium between brand-new and lightly used bargains.  Especially with fast growing junior skiers, it doesn’t always make sense to purchase new skis, boots and poles each year.  Lots of people must agree with us, or else why would there be “ski swaps?”

SWAP:  Ski swap season starts in late October and usually ends by mid-November, just in time for the lifts to open.  In our community, ski swaps are generally held to benefit a local non-profit organization (an alternative school or the ski patrol, for example).  Vendors run the gamut from local ski shops getting rid of last year’s equipment to individuals trying to unload their excess stuff and thus the quality of items for sale runs a similar gamut.  Sellers usually pay a fee for a booth and the swap often takes a percentage of the sales.

I will be perfectly honest with you:  I am not a fan of ski swaps.  They are often crowded and time-consuming.  And, while I know plenty of  people who have found good bargains at a swap, I prefer to buy directly, negotiating with my local ski shop to get a great price on last year’s gear or using word-of-mouth and online services such as Craig’s list.

TALK: In the market for skis for your 6 year-old? Put out the word to the parents of 7 and 8 year-olds.  Send a mass email to all of your friends, telling them what you are looking for and encourage them to pass it on to their friends (and so on, and so on).  Are you a member of a ski club or are your kids on a racing team?  Put a notice in the newsletter stating what gear you would like to unload and what gear and sizes you are looking for.  Network and ye shall find.

CLICK:  I have bought and sold all sorts of things online — bike trailers, books, bikes, skis, and ski clothing.  The buying part is especially easy.  Go to a site like Craig’s List and put in the key words for what you wish to buy.  You can narrow down your search by choosing a geographic area from a list on the right hand side of the page.  I like Craig’s List because it is like a giant garage sale.  eBay is more tricky and annoying because of the auction feature which requires you to either “buy now” at a higher price or watch the auction until the very last-minute when an automated bid may come in and trump your offer.  Note to all eBay users: learn how to use automatic bidding. On either site, pay with PayPal and you shouldn’t have to worry about fraud. Quality is another consideration and you should email the seller with specific questions and study the photos carefully before making any purchase.

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