Hello. My name is Chase Stewart. I am a skier. I have been a skier my whole life. From riding in my Dad’s backpack as a toddler in northern Minnesota, to learning the sport in the brutal cold of Spirit Mountain Minnesota, to my days standing in the rain, waiting for my ski race bib number to be called in the Pacific Northwest, to my troubled, unhealthy years in Colorado, to 20+ years of ski bumming in Utah. All my family members are skiers too.
I am also a frustrated consumer and entrepreneur. I started Free the Powder Gloves 16 months ago, with a vision to try to begin changing something that has bothered me as long as I can remember, perhaps even back to the sounds of a father complaining to his young son: ski gear is just too expensive.
But even my Dad could not have anticipated just how bad it is today in 2014:
Most companies in the ski industry have outsourced their manufacturing to Asia. That outsourcing has not led to a significant decrease in the price of ski gear. You pay the same price for the gear that used to be made in Utah and Vermont and Michigan and California that you do now that it is made in China and Vietnam and Pakistan and Taiwan. What other industry has managed to do that?
But what really troubles me the most and it’s just getting worse, is that the ski industry pricing model bases its prices on what a small percentage of the most affluent skiers are willing to pay at retail shops.
$900 skis made in Thailand for $75
$35 for socks made in China for $3
$100+ for base layers made in Cambodia for $6
$500 Waterproof shell pants made in Vietnam for $25
$125 fleece sweater made in Pakistan for $12
$600 shell jacket made for $28 in Taiwan
$800 ski boots made in China for $45.
This is the modern rule of ski industry pricing. And so I ask you: do you know anyone in your world that pays these prices for their gear?
You probably get your gear the same way I have my whole life: discounts, sales, bro-deals, hook-ups, summer clearance bins, ski swaps, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera… Most ski gear purchased in the world is purchased at a significant discount from its suggested retail price. That is just crazy!
Ski industry products should be priced at a level that makes average skiers buy now at retail prices.