Let me make sure that this gets said first: Most ski shop employees are flat-out terrific. They treat their customers with respect, they’re valuable sources of inside information, and they’ll do everything in their power to help you find the gear you need. To the good guys, a big salute.
But there are always a few exceptions. The bad apples that can spoil a whole shop. Believe it or not, some guys still don’t get it. Even with all the kick-ass women skiers out there, they still think women can’t possibly be serious about skiing, or even be all that good. (Actually, I have no idea what they think; I can’t get into mind set.)
So if you work in a ski shop — or run one — take a moment and read this before your big season kicks in. If you’re guilty of anything you see here, please knock it off in a hurry. Unless, of course, you want to send women running from your shop. And into somebody else’s.
When a woman comes in, do you…
- Ignore her? This is just plain dumb. Since when does it make sense to ignore a potential customer? Don’t think we’re not worth talking to because we’re not going to buy anything. We are. It just won’t be from you.
- Start off by asking what color she likes? Sure, we’re like anyone. Graphics and color have their place. But they’re not our highest priority. Truly, I don’t care if my skis or boots match my jacket. And I’m insulted if you think I do.
- Direct her to starter equipment? No, not all women skiers are beginners. You have no idea how I ski. I could be on the ski patrol or even the US Ski Team. Please, ask me questions about my skill level, the type of conditions I ski, and so on, before you recommend equipment. You might be surprised. You’ll certainly get smarter about what I might want to buy.
- Talk only to the guy she’s with? This is the worst sin of all. Nothing ticks me off more than someone assuming I don’t have a brain. Hey, I’m in your shop to buy something. Talk to me.
- Talk down to her? Okay, so you’re talking to me. But you’re talking to me like I’m in kindergarten. Please treat me with respect. It’ll go a long way.
- Know absolutely nothing about women’s gear? If you carry it, you should know something about it. We’ll have questions and we’d like them answered. If you don’t know, direct us to someone who does. Don’t sell us to the equipment you have. Sell us to the equipment we need.
Of course, all this presumes you carry women’s gear in the first place. Because if there’s one way to make sure you won’t sell to women, it’s not carrying women’s skis or boots. For some women, unisex equipment is fine. But for others — women like me, who aren’t very large — women’s equipment is a godsend. So if you want to tap into this market — and it’s a big one; according to Snowsports Industries America, 40% of all skiers are women — please, have more than one or two token models in stock, in a variety of sizes. And know everything there is to know about them, too.
What it all boils down to is this: treat us with respect. We’ll thank you for it by opening our wallets. And both of us will go away happy.