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As we head into winter, I asked Duke Edukas of Surfside to give me his assessment of the upcoming season. Here's what he had to say:
"Last year was unarguably the poorest snowfall worldwide that anyone can remember. Many years we deal with the fact that Southern California doesn't get much natural snowfall - that's why there are so many snow-making machines in the local mountains - but we could always rely on Mammoth. Last year we couldn't rely on anything. Mammoth, The Rockies, Utah, even Europe were exceptionally dry. Even with all the news about Colorado getting all those killer blizzards was misleading, because those storms really only hit the metropolitan Denver area, not the resorts in the mountains.
"As a result, last year in retail was one of the weakest any of us have ever experienced. The thing that scares me the most is how much of last year's product is still out there. Every consumer wants a deal. If there is a glut of last season's product out there, and I'm sure there is, it's bound to effect this season's goods. The question is, how much? I think we can almost bank on the fact that this year's snow-fall is going to be better than last. But, how many consumers are going to buy this year's product offering at full price, when they might be able to find last year's stuff at phenomenal savings?
"This year, there have been many small, and in some cases large, snow retailers go out of business. If it doesn't snow this year, and I mean in the crucial early season during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, not at Easter, you're going to see even more retailers throwing in the towel, so to speak. Our store is much more diverse than many. If we have another bad year, the other departments in our store will carry us through, but many retailers aren't so fortunate.
"But the question will remain, how deep do we keep going in the snow department? Our particular store has one of the largest single-store offerings of snowboard related hard-goods and soft-goods in California. I think that the only store that might have more than ours is Wave Rave in Mammoth. We have a full repair/tuning dept. and everything else, but, this department is definitely the most volatile, labor-intensive, risky departments in the whole store. If we get good snow-fall in the crucial early-season, I'm a hero, if we don't, who's the fool?"
To kick off the snow season, Surfside is having a big event Saturday, Nov. 3. The store's 15th annual Snow Carnival from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. includes carnival games, a storewide sale on snow products, lots of food and drinks and a big raffle at 3 p.m. You've got to be present to win. The sale lasts all day.