This time of year- the Ski Swap notices start coming and people get excited for the coming season. The Ski Swaps are not only an outlet for selling and buying equipment, but also a social time to reconnect with your ski buddies who perhaps you have not seen since last winter. But there are plusses and minuses for these things and I believe that there should be an acronym for the word SWAP( S#$% we all purvey) Yes- we are purveyors of the “s@#$” from our basements and garages and in most cases, we just want to unload and if we get a buck or two for it, so be it. But the main reason is to clear out so that we can make room for new equipment. Old boots, helmets, skis, and various auxiliary ski items can be moved but the funny thing is the difference in what we think they are worth compared to what people are willing to pay. If your main reason is to unload stuff at the swap, then you will take whatever is offered. But if you think your “stuff” is worth more than people are willing to pay- you will be sorely disappointed. If you want to get rid of your “stuff” then you better be prepared to let it go for next to nothing.
Let’s go through a couple of examples shall we? Skis- if your skis are straight skis and not shaped, meaning they are “old”, you have next to no chance to sell them.. You are better off disposing of them or donating them to those guys that make Adirondack chairs out of old skis. Or hang them up above your fireplace if they are real old. Anything 10 years or older – the ski shops will not work on the bindings for liability purposes. Kids skis?- There is a market for these. But again, they cannot be too old or they will not sell. But people are willing to at least purchase used kids skis because they grow in and out of them quickly. My opinion- it is better to go to a shop and be a part of their seasonal rental program. Better equipment, and you can return it after the season. Better skis like you see above? If you want to move these, you need to be realistic about the price. You may have paid over $1000.00 per pair for them with bindings in the past, but people are not going to want to pay more than half of that if they are a number of years old- no matter how well they are maintained. And in my opinion, you are better off marketing them on line rather than take them to a swap. You will not get anything near to what you want at a swap. Sad but true.
Lets talk about boots. A discerning buyer will look at used boots to see what kind of shape they are in. Are the liners worn down? Are the toes and heels of the shell worn? They won’t work well in the bindings if they are. Are they more than a couple of years old? If the aforementioned things are true, don’t expect much from a swap. Take what you can get and leave the building. Rear entry boots- use them for a flower pot. Not worth a hoot. My dad’s old buddy had a pair of Hansens that he wanted to sell back in the day. I told him to plant his geraniums in them in the spring. Nobody in their right mind was going to buy those things. Be realistic.
Clothing- a lot of swaps do not have clothing options because of COVID. However, there are some that may try it. Again, don’t expect much for used clothing. Your old Bogner one piece may have been cool in the day, but it is not worth a thing today. Again- lower your expectations and try to unload if you can for a cheap price.
People are amazing at swaps. There are those who find it entertaining to seek out the hidden great deal on a pair of used skis, boots, or other equipment. Every once in a while you will find someone who is unloading some good “stuff” because they have to move, or they have quit skiing for one reason or another. It is fun to look for these things but buyer beware- there are no guarantees and usually all sales are final. The great pair of skis you bought at the swap may appear to be in pristine condition until you get home and notice that core shot in the base, or the edge that is damaged by a rock. You may be able to repair them, but no chance of getting your money back. Most sellers at a swap just dump off their stuff and put a price on the items and wait for the swap people to give them their money or shop credit at the end of the day. Sellers are usually nowhere to be seen. But buyers are there for several reasons.
Some ski shops will sponsor swaps and perhaps give shop credit for items sold. They also have old equipment from trade ins, or perhaps some items that have not sold in the regular shop sales. It is an opportunity also for the shop to market its new wares for the season. Get people in the shop or venue and allow them to perhaps change their minds and get new equipment.
There are some swaps where there is a beneficiary like a charity or kids ski program that benefits from the sale of the equipment. If you are in the generous mode and are willing to donate for the express purpose of supporting the cause, it is a successful day. You have unloaded some stuff out of your basement or garage for a good purpose and these types of swaps are becoming more popular.
Swaps may be more popular these days because of the economy. Seasoned skiers and real enthusiasts are going to always buy good equipment and maintain what they buy. But the skier who perhaps is watching their bucks, especially with all the increased costs of skiing today, may be willing to compromise a little bit and get some used stuff at a swap. Typically these are the casual skiers who want something to do every once in a while in the winter. But the real skiers- they will buy the good stuff and scrimp somewhere else.
But the bottom line is see your friends, see what s@#$ they are trying to buy or sell, laugh at the curmudgeons, and enjoy one of the highlights to the beginning of ski season. Think snow and thanks for reading.