Cheap Winter Thrills

Eco-savvy consumers save

Cheap Winter Thrills

Want to save money on sports equipment? Attend an equipment swap or take your gently used goods to a sports consignment store.

With the bracing chill of winter in the air and several inches of inviting fresh powder on your local ski hill, global warming may seem like a distant memory. Unfortunately, cashing in your paycheque for shiny new winter sports equipment won’t stop those polar ice caps from melting.

If you’re an avid skier or snowboarder, however, there’s no need to pack it in and take up knitting. You can maintain your eco-friendly lifestyle while hitting the slopes in style. Here are some ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle next time you need to upgrade your winter sports equipment.

Go Online

Buying and selling used equipment has never been easier, through websites such as eBay and craigslist. Some websites, such as evogear.com, sell used and demo ski and snowboard gear at hugely discounted prices.

A word of caution: do your research. Find out what brands and styles are popular, so that you know what a fair price should be. Know what sizes will fit you and what kind of performance you can expect from a particular brand. Bear in mind that sizes are not standardized across brands.

More importantly, check the reputation of the seller before you hit the submit button. On eBay you can browse through customer comments and ratings, and read the seller’s return policy.

Check Your Local Rental Outlet

Every year, rental outlets replace their current stock for the latest gear. Forget about finding a bargain at the height of the season, though. The summer is the best time to check for sales; demand is low, and many rental stores are closed for the season.

Browse through your local ski rental outlet’s website in July and you’ll be sure to find a sale announcement–if you can wait that long.

Visit Second-hand Goods Stores

You won’t have to look far to find a second-hand or consignment store in your neighbourhood. Many specialize in sports equipment, such as Sports Junkies (sportsjunkies.com). Check your local phone directory under “sporting goods.”

If you’re buying, deals can be found on equipment in areas with little demand. For example, cross-country skis are desirable on the East Coast but can be picked up for a song on the West Coast, where downhill skis are more popular, and vice versa.

If you’re selling, you can accept the store’s cash offer or you can place the item on consignment. You get to name the sale price but have to wait for the item to sell before collecting your money. Typically the store will also take a cut.

Attend an Equipment Swap

Many winter-sports clubs and related organizations organize swaps where people can buy or sell their used gear on consignment. A group of Calgary skiers established the first ski swap in 1963. They’re still going strong today–check out skisale.ca. The Canadian Ski Patrol also organizes regional swaps across the country. Swap proceeds support local volunteer first aid and rescue services.

Some winter-sports communities have massive swaps that are also fun events. Enjoy a festive atmosphere while you browse for bargains on pre-owned equipment. One example is Whistler Blackcomb’s Turkey Sale & Swap that takes place every Thanksgiving weekend.

Also, check your local newspaper. Community centres and schools often raise funds through used winter-equipment sales. If you have the patience, you can even scour garage sales–but be sure to check for wear and tear on parts such as bindings and seams, and make sure the equipment is safe before you haggle for a deal.

Creative Recycling Options

Sports equipment such as skis and snowshoes used to be made from wood, but are now made from hardened plastics and polymers that should never end up in the landfill. If your equipment is too beat up to sell or repair, get creative. Craft a bench out of a snowboard or a coat rack out of old skis.

For ideas, check out Green Mountain Ski Furniture (recycledskis.com), a business that creates outdoor furniture out of old skis. Another company, Reeski (reeski.ezweave.com), makes everything from toilet seat covers to magazine racks out of old skis and snowboards. You can even ship them your old equipment and they’ll make some customized furniture for you.

Whether reducing, reusing, or recycling, your winter sports equipment doesn’t have to impact our already overstressed environment or empty your wallet. Besides, you’ll probably need the money for those overpriced lift tickets!

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