Slow snow season felt at industry show in Denver
summit daily news
Traffic was slow at the 2012 Snowsports Industries of America Snow Show at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver over the weekend.
At least, that’s what Breckenridge’s Fat-ypus Skis owner Jared Mazlish said Friday at around lunchtime. He said he wasn’t the only one; nearby exhibitors said much the same about the early part of the trade show floor being open.
“Instead of being manic, it’s a little here, a little there,” said Mazlish, who also pointed out that international buyer and East Coast representative presence also seemed down from the year prior.
The snow show, which sold out in booth space in June, featured more than 900 snowsports brands and 105 new exhibitors throughout the 330,000-square-feet of convention center exhibit space. It was expected to draw more than 19,000 attendees including snowsports suppliers, retailers, reps, athletes and professionals from around the globe.
By late January last season, most North American mountains were on their way to near record breaking or record-breaking snowfall totals. That’s far from the reality this year.
“Shop owners are trying to deal with not making money,” Mazlish observed, noting the limited snow that’s fallen nationwide – and, until recently, in Europe – so far this winter. He said he’s been in Summit County for roughly two decades, and it’s the driest start to the season thus far.
Mazlish didn’t seem fazed by the trend, which includes still waiting for the second order of Fat-ypus skis to come in from his retail partners.
“I’m flexible by being small,” he said. “I can be $60,000 down and still hold my head up.”
He explained that, in years like this, revenue at larger companies might be slashed by hundreds of thousands of dollars, which represents a larger blow to the bottom line. He also makes less product overall, enabling him to dump fewer leftovers at a higher cost than his larger competitors. It also helps that he was “sitting pretty” at the end of last year, when he sold out of product thanks to excited skiers wanting to float in the plethora of powder that helped Arapahoe Basin operate until Fourth of July last summer.
Despite the dismal start to the season – and its effects on the manufacturers and retailers – Mazlish and Fat-ypus-sponsored athlete Varyk Kutnick said the snow started falling just in time, both in the western United States as well as in Europe.
In fact, some exhibitors theorized that Friday was so slow because buyers stole away to take advantage of the fresh powder that fell Thursday night at nearby resorts.
It’s what Adam Browning said, who sat in a small booth tucked away in the corner of the trade show floor, surrounded by his new line of hand-crafted, wood veneer snowboards. His company, OZ Snowboards, launched this summer and is based in Evergreen. He was showing off the full quiver of technology, from the regular camber boards to the G3 model, with its rocker shape and geometrical sidecut to hold edge – all made with as environmentally-friendly, durable, and light materials he can find, such as the honeycomb Kevlar core with aerospace-grade triaxial carbon fiber.
Recognizing it’s tough to take on a new product in a tough economic year, Browning was offering a buy-back guarantee to prospective buyers.
“Taking on a new brand is risky,” he said, acknowledging he probably wouldn’t see any orders until folks had the chance to ride his boards at today’s and Tuesday’s on-snow demo day at Winter Park Resort.
“This product is excellent. When people take them out, they love it,” Browning said, adding that he has been building boards as a hobby for three years and has incorporated feedback throughout.
The newbies on the market
Browning’s OZ Snowboards was among several product lines based in and around Summit County that launched or debuted at the snow show.
Ben Molloy was also tucked away in a corner with a display of casual apparel with graffiti-type designs. He calls it Backside Clothing Company, and said the urban-action sports design fusion is a result of his product design class at Colorado Mountain College’s Steamboat campus. Based out of Kremmling and Steamboat, Backside currently screenprints product in California, though Molloy said it will soon become more hands-on and localized. His goal is statewide distribution by the end of 2012, though he said by Friday afternoon at the snow show, he hadn’t gotten many buyer bites.
On the other hand, Emily Coleman’s
5-month-old lifestyle apparel line, Sno-Life, had landed a contract with the Special Olympics training facility in Winter Park. The young company has presence in four states as of a month ago.
“We decided we needed a lifestyle brand that will stick out that represents your love for the snow life,” Coleman said, explaining that Sno-Life isn’t resort-specific nor is it found anywhere but in the mountains.
Meanwhile, Breck’s Sam Minassian and his Phase 4 Imports colleagues were showcasing O-Range, an Italian-made line of solar backpacks and messenger bags. The idea is to have durable, waterproof fabric to protect your gear – including electronics that are recharging through the solar panels.
“It’s comfortable, functional, thin and packable,” said Phase 4’s Tony Marzelli, adding that where they’re stocked in Summit County, “messenger bags are flying off the shelf.”
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