YoBeatz posted this headline when the sad news of SnoCon broke about being gone this week. Transworld Business has done numerous articles with shops that have gone out of business and for the most part it's been a finger pointing game on why they went out of business and what caused it. Except for SnoCon. They told the real story and made no excuses for what happened.
I've been to the majority of these stores that closed, worked with the buyers, management and sold them product. I've seen what their shops were an what they had become. How the owners, staff, lifestyle and passion for the lifestyle change thru the years. And I have a different view on what's killing the core store...
In my opinion there will always a place for stores and staff like Snocon had. Always. The chain store, internet, direct sales, over distribution and all that other crap are just factors for retail in general. Either adapt to the direction the trains going or get left behind. Don't get me wrong, I have problems with all the above myself and we're doing our part to be part of the solution, not the problem.
Bottom line though, one of the deciding reasons this went down with Snocon was that they got caught in the expansion game like a lot of people back in 07-08. 18 years of growth, moved to a new higher rent location, economy tanks, didn't adjust quick enough, got behind and then it was a deep hole to dig out of when the sales you enjoyed to keep all of that radness afloat weren't there because people are being tight with their money. Seattle had only two great snowboard shops, SnoCon and evo. There used to be 6. Competition is down and our numbers at the hill are the highest they've ever been. Look up the parking lot debacle at Stevens this winter. They posted the most visits ever and it's at least a 50% snowboarders hill. Problem is, people are holding on the gear longer, not turning it as quick, buying used, renting, demoing, closeout, and or stuff from other available sources. It sucks. John and crew were good for the lifestyle of snowboarding. They are part of the culture. They loved being on the floor, handing beers to people shopping, and made personal connections. If a bad YELP review came up, Adam was on the phone, internet and rectifying the problem. These guys cared. Shit just changed too much that the overhead they were dealing with, didn’t match the income that was being generated. The banks and lenders wanted their debt to be paid. So John and Adam did what any person with a conscious, integrity and a respect for the relationships they had thru the years with the people they did business with would do. Stop the bleeding.
So people on the interwebs keep asking this question, why are core stores going out of business? Well for the most part (Snocon NOT included) the owners get over it. People start shops to have an extension of a lifestyle they love, which is snowboarding, surfing, skating and or skiing. But then they get older, change interests and this passion that was once snowboarding or skiing is now cocktail parties, Audi’s, golf, kids or whatever and it’s not snowboarding, skating, surfing or skiing, the store becomes a job. And when that job doesn’t pay you what you need to support your new lifestyle, you need to look elsewhere. Then you have someone “manage” your show while you go work a real job. Snowboard shops need passion, personal attention, the owner working and oozing the lifestyle on the floor. But now you got a paid monkey on the floor, not doing that, but doing a job. We’ve got a big problem with heritage / legacy snowboard shops these days. Dudes are aging, not shredding, not participating in a lifestyle that they helped create. Getting scared investing back into their stores and wish things were like the old days. Trust me, I thought a chain link fence in a store 20 years ago was cutting edge. I wish it was like the old days, but its not, so lets make new days. You want to be involved in something, involve yourself. These guys are giving their retail establishments the bare minimum and expecting the maximum back. That dog don’t hunt.
There’s still a handful of legit stores that participate, live, breath, dream and build the lifestyle of snowboarding. Snocon going down absolutely blows, it's a kick in the balls. They just got backed into a corner they couldn’t get out of. And plenty of us in the business wanted and more importantly, NEEDED them to exist. Thanks John and Adam for having the respect, integrity and class in how things went down. It would of been easy to jump in on the finger pointing band wagon, but then again that's not what SnoCon ever did. Follow the pack. Snowboarding needs more people like you.