TR: A tale of two ski swaps
October 7, 2007
"Uh-oh, this isn't good" I said to myself as I rounded the corner of the building. The front parking lot had two scooters, several bikes and a (land-only, sniff!) hovercraft in it. There were no people and the sign "Ski Swap in back" was only noticeable as one walked up to the front door.
Annapolis, Md, Oct. 6th 9:50 am and it's 84 fun loving degrees. Ai! How can a ski swap even remotely go on?
So there I am, next to Ski Haus Sport Center, wending my way past two large plywood half-pipes and a short, squat tricks table. I can see one guy in a panama hat with a rainbow ribbon on it. I can hear vague strains of beach music. Ai! And I drove out for this?
The guy was Ed Fowler of Skidome, and I was saying hello to him as I walked 'round the corner and -presto- people, banners, skis, skiwear. The whole thing was done in the shade of a high deck, a pretty good thing if it rained (it didn't) and also to keep things out of the sun, you know.
Ok. Check the skis out (nothing remotely impressive, some overpriced (for a swap) Atomic M:EXs, some Stockli Stormrider XLs in a chickie length, and some fairly beat 2000-vintage skis and older, all priced as high as the market would bear.
Ah! Interesting! Kudos to Ski Haus, they had brought a plywood tiered bench outside to the under deck space and a shop employee was helping customers find boots among everything that showed up. I was very impressed with this. People will buy any sort of rot if it's cheap and doesn't immediately hurt.
So I decide to do a bit of an experiment. A pair of 2002 Fischer RX8s (175cm) for $60 and a pair of 2000 Volant Vertex (160cm) for $20.
Before I started snoozing away the late morning and early afternoon, I put my skates on. Shaking my head at the skateboard kids banging away on the half pipes with no helmets or anything, I decided not to bother with that and headed out College Parkway to Bay Dale to Jones Station Rd to Church Rd to Arnold/Severn Pines to the Baltimore Annapolis trail. Whew it was hot. Flat, hot, sweaty, but really well done (fancy-painted ranger station, nice fresh -new- boards on the bridges, water stops every 4 miles or so). Cougar sightings and lots of tans, some deeper than mine. Everyone in Apolis seems tan.
Back I am around 2 and sure 'nuff: $20 160cm steel Y2K Volants went so fast my head would've spun to watch. $60 175cm RX8s are still sitting there. I laugh a bit, collect my stuff, chat with the nice lady from Baltimore Ski Club (wonder if she reads here? She should.) and I'm done.
SUNDAY< SUNDAY >SUNDAY
Shaw Rd? Where IS Shaw Rd? Church Rd. is easy to find, at least if one's on Sterling Blvd or Rte 28. I can SEE the shop, but I can't very well get there?
Previous navigation of this mess counseled patience. I make the turn, avoid trying to go through the utility co's driveway, go another block, and go around 3.5 sides of a rectangle to get to the swap. Which is tiny, as expected. Still good deals on shop -seeded skis and I almost walked away with some new RX9s and RX6s for the gf. The shop itself leaves me with a cool, clean, professional and elegant impression, a relief on a hot day. Swap stuff is not quite as organized, but they do take a page from Ski Haus' book and there is an employee helping with boots. Good one.
One of the interesting things these smaller swaps bring to mind is the concept of market maker. Obviously no one dealing with ski gear would post buy and a sell price offers, and ski shops do seed swaps with decent goods at decent prices.
Still, I think a large part of liquidity comes from the willingness of swap participants to buy and sell over a wider variety of prices, and to abandon "the I want top dollar" mentality. And it's the liquidity, the buying and trading fever, that really gets one excited for the season. Well, me anyway.
I missed my chance to skate to Alpine from home and, as I didn't have reason to leave my car there so I left.
The hunt is on. I need to do some swap diving myself (for my kids) this fall and should make the big one at Ski Center on Oct 28.
Not advertised well, but looks like Ski Chalet Gaithersburg is next week-end, both days.
Hey JimK - I need some 155-160cm all mountain skis and size 12 (yes I said 12) boots for my 14 yr old. Also need a ~146 snowboard and large bindings for the 12 yr old. Not proud.
** This message sent from the land without ski swaps. **