I have never had much sympathy for the “shop locally-owned” argument. My view was that I should buy what I liked whether the seller was a local owner or a multinational because the moral argument for choosing one over the other usually didn’t hold water
A case in point would be my choice of coffee. Many seek a feeling of moral superiority by turning their nose up at Starbucks, choosing instead to frequent one of the “locally-owned” operators. I say to each his own. Starbucks makes good coffee, so I drink it. Alpine Café also makes good coffee, as does Gone, so I drink theirs as well. The corporate structure of my java purveyor is completely irrelevant to the question of whether I will enjoy a nice cup of coffee or a stomachache.
Laying out two bucks for a cup of coffee that turns out badly is one thing, but laying out several hundred dollars for ski gear that fails is another thing entirely. Recently I have had two experiences that make me rethink my disdain for the shop locally owned sentiment.
I needed new goggles, so I did my research. What coating? What colour? Spherical or cylindrical lenses? Once I had sorted out what I needed for Whistler’s conditions, I headed off to make my purchase. I found my goggles at McCoo’s.
Unfortunately, what I didn’t know was that “metallic coating” does not always mean “hard surface.” I wiped my goggles and in the process completely destroyed the metallic coating. Back I went to McCoo’s several months later. All I knew was that my goggles were a mess. Two things happened. First Jeff replaced my lenses with no questions asked. No proof of purchase was necessary, no questions about whether I had abused the goggles, which unknowingly I had. The lens was replaced at no cost, and then I received a gentle lecture on how to care for modern goggle technology.
This past Christmas my sweetheart was out of the country. To cheer myself up I decided, for the first time in my life, to buy an entirely new ski suit from the top down. So I went to Whistler Clothing Company where George Koning and his staff fixed me up with a suit that had the right combination of functionality and fabrics for our environment. I feel great wearing that suit. In fact I felt really good when I was in Nesters shortly before closing one night and a local ski instructor accused me of the “full rock star” – shopping at Nesters at 10 o’clock at night, still in ski suit and ski boots.
So imagine my distress when the seam in the crotch completely blew out. Back I went to the store. When the very nice retail assistant seemed hesitant I demanded (in a way that only a divorce lawyer can demand) to speak to Rose Koning. Rose assured me that she needed to see the damage first, but my pant problem would be taken care of. The very next morning I had an email from Rose resolving the issue before I had even brushed my teeth.
There are very good reasons to shop at locally-owned retailers. Whether it’s Whistler Clothing Company, Peak Performance, McCoo’s, Fanatykco, Summit Sport, Whistler Village Sports, TMC Freeriderz, Escape Route, Sportstop, or another locally owned gear retailer, all of these businesses put food on the table for families that you and I know. Yet there are reasons that have more to do with your pocketbook than your morals. Locally owned retailers sell top quality products across a range of competitive prices. They sell gear that’s right for Whistler. Their staff know what they are talking about. The owner is in the store. If there is a problem it’s going to be fixed. The way I see it, locally-owned retailers distinguish great resorts from merely good resorts.