We all know about the squishy feel-good reasons to shop local: better customer service, better employee expertise, better community investment, better sense of connection. But here are the real reasons that any self-respecting ski bum should plan on spending his or her cash at a local shop instead of at [insert monopolistic predatory e-retailer here].
When shop rats are gainfully employed they’re not getting first tracks.
The good thing about ski shops is that quite often they’re open during ski hours. And the bad thing about the crusty skids working behind the counter is that they know about every single one of your stashes as well as twelve others you’ve never found. But when those slash-turning fluff-humpers are turning DINs and selling socks instead of sitting on the chairlift, there will be a little more powder for the rest of us.
But seriously, local businesses employ local people.
Local taxes mean it’s easier to get to the ski hill on a stormy day.
Yeah, I know, you don’t like taxes. But you’ll most likely be paying them in some form or another regardless of where you shop (with some jurisdiction-specific exceptions). This isn’t sexy at all, but the dollars you spend at your local shop often include cents that stay local, whether that’s a county tax that helps support shuttle buses for the grom posse, the DUI crowd, and the granola grandpas, or a city tax that keeps the road to the resort plowed. So shop local or get stuck in your driveway when it snows.
But seriously, keeping your money in your community makes your community a better place.
No small businesses means no one to sponsor film premieres or donate raffle prizes.
Warren Miller Entertainment and Teton Gravity Research are not going out of their way to screen this winter’s feature length ski film in the high school auditorium of your town of 2,400. That’s why local businesses are the ones who step up, help organize and promote, and make it happen. And they’re also the ones who shell out the free beanies, spring wax kits, koozies with typos on them, coffee shop gift cards, and size XL baselayers for that sweet, sweet pre-film raffle.
But seriously, local business owners are usually the most generous in supporting the cultural events and nonprofits that make skiing worthwhile.
Remembering to put out your cardboard for pick-up is a b!tch on powder days.
If you’re in the habit of purchasing everything on the internet and are signed up for five different meal/toilet paper/dog toy subscriptions, those boxes tend to pile up, which gets in the way of your ski tuning bench or your twelve bikes or your boot dryer or your poor Malamute’s bed. And then, it’s recycling pick-up day and you’re relieved to finally move some of that cardboard out of your house and make it the local sanitation service’s problem instead…and then it snows a foot the night before and you’re in such a rush to get to the hill that you forget to put out your recycling and it continues filling your house. If you just walked down to your local shop instead, you wouldn’t be adding to the pile.
But seriously, buying online has a really heinous carbon footprint.
Third-homeowner retail tech billionaires tip the worst at restaurants.
The middle-aged unicorn-start-up bros who hassle the wait staff at high-end small-plate elk-tartare gastropubs in mountain towns and are lobbying for more privatized ski “experiences” in the vein of the Yellowstone Club are the same people who make bank when you prioritize convenience and cheapness over value and community stability. You know who’s cooler than that? The couple that owns the ski shop, volunteer coaches the freeride team on the weekends, and shot their own elk this fall (and has some backstrap for you if you watch their cats over Thanksgiving).
But seriously, no one should be that rich, so focus on enriching people you know instead of pimping out the stock portfolios of plutocrats.