Just like premature Christmas decorations, the winter-sports industry likes to put its stock on the floor as early as possible. This week, while shipments of winter equipment and apparel bounce across the Pacific Ocean from China’s factories, retailers are all about clearing space. The annual Turkey Sale is now a fixture of the Canadian Thanksgiving holiday in Whistler, and with some strategic marketing and word of mouth over the years, it’s become yet another reliably busy weekend. Shoppers descend on our mountain town from all over the Lower Mainland and across the border, all hungry for a deal on winter gear.
Buying new ski and snowboard gear (or replacing old stuff) isn’t cheap, but some smart decisions this week could net you a killer setup for the 2016-17 winter season.
For the thriftiest of shoppers, the best place to grab a smokin’ deal on hard goods is at the Whistler Ski Swap, which sets up under tents adjacent to the Blackcomb Day Lodge. It’s staffed by volunteers from the Whistler Mountain Ski Club, but you’ll find a lot more than just hand-me-down ski racing gear.
The Whistler Ski Swap is now a consignment sale for new and used equipment with the exception of clothing, unmounted bindings and ski poles. It’s a great place to offload old skis and snowboards (they must be a maximum of two years old or in great condition) with a 20-per-cent commission going to the ski club. The Swap kicks off Friday (Oct. 7) at 5 p.m.
The main event is the Whistler Blackcomb (WB) Turkey Sale, located inside the Blackcomb Day Lodge. This is where people line up for hours to get first dibs on gear, starting from Friday (October 7) at noon (Friday is advertised as being for locals and passholders, but credentials aren’t always checked at the door).
While the WB Turkey Sale is by far the biggest in Whistler with the most stock, it doesn’t necessarily have the best deals. Ski and snowboard stores throughout the Village have far less storage space and are usually willing to let last year’s stock go with smaller margins. But they also have limited supply, which means getting there early to nab your preferred size, style and colour. Some of these sales have started already, so check the pages of this newspaper and Pique Newsmagazine to make sure you don’t miss out.
If you do miss the boat on early deals, don’t get discouraged. The racks may be picked through, but if you spend an afternoon combing the Village stores you never know what you may stumble upon.
Lastly, if you are retiring old planks, don’t throw them in the dumpster. Ski Heaven is a local company that turns old skis into abstract art and funky furniture, so your old faithfuls can have a second lease on life rather than getting buried in a landfill. Check them out at skiheaven.ca.