Ski shops benefit from record snows

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Rich Uhl, owner of The Ski Shop at 1422 Tejon St., said he’s seen a 10 percent increase in sales this season.

With some ski resorts reporting snow packs of up to 239 inches, the high country’s record winter precipitation has led to record sales at Colorado Springs equipment shops.
“It’s been a phenomenal season,” said Kevin Kinney, manager at The Ski Shop at 1422 Tejon St. “We’ve had a lot of snow in the high country and we’re actually having a real ski season.”
Kinney said that the snow this season is the best he’s seen in three decades.
“We only sell ski equipment and clothing,” he said. “So, it’s been really good for us that snow has been good in the mountains since Thanksgiving. People started coming in early, too, to buy discounted season passes.”
Rental sales have been strong as well, Kinney said. The biggest seller: ski boots.
Kinney attributes the sales increases to excellent skiing conditions.
“In past years, they didn’t really ski enough to make it worth the purchase,” he said. “Now, the skiing is so good, people are skiing every weekend, and they’ve decided to replace their old boots with new, updated versions. We’re doing a lot of custom adjustments as well.”
Ski Shop owner Rick Uhl said store sales are up nearly 10 percent for the year, but ski boot sales are up 30 percent.
“I just got back from a trade show, and everyone who had good snow was having a phenomenal year,” he said. “If we have cold weather, good snow and a decent economy, we’re going to have a good year.”
At Christy Sports at 1808 N. Academy, sales are up about 10 percent compared to last year, said Len Petrocelli, the store’s manager. While the biggest sellers are skis and warm clothing, he said snowshoes also are selling well.
“The weather drives our business,” he said. “And we’re definitely seeing a big increase.”
Sales at locally owned stores started picking up in November, as ski resorts reported record snowfall amounts.
Vail reported a record snow pack of 141 inches as early as Dec. 6, and the resort opened two weeks earlier than in previous years. Current snow totals are at 239 inches. Breckenridge has 226 inches of snow.
At Colorado Kite and Ski, which is at 2845 Ore Mill Drive, January sales are up 35 percent compared to last year, owner Don Markham said. He attributes the increase to the store’s move to the west side of town.
“There weren’t any ski shops over here,” he said. “And everyone was moving east. I bucked that trend, and we’re blowing away the bigger guys. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.”
Colorado Kite and Ski customers can rent equipment and buy it at a discounted price at the end of the season.
“It’s try it before you buy it,” Markham said. “It’s one of the unusual things we do. Also, we are a service shop mostly. We do tuneups on skis and remounts; we offer a one-day turnaround. We’re the only shop that does that.”
More snow doesn’t equal more sales at all area ski equipment stores. National chain REI reports flat sales compared to last year.
“We’re just not seeing big increases,” Assistant Manager Tom Kummer said. “It’s about the same.”
Kummer attributes lackluster sales to Colorado Springs residents, who tend to start skiing later in the season – when the snow is at its peak and many of the tourists have left the slopes.
“We also haven’t gotten a lot of snow here in town,” he said. “We’ve had some extremely warm temperatures. Sometimes, if it’s not snowing in their back yard, they just don’t think about going.”
Amy.Gillentine@csbj.com