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.
Considering the fact that moms also buy for kids, you’d think they see one big huge $ hanging over our heads as soon as we walk into the shops.
Ain’t nobody happy…and so on!
I want to start off with the fact that you are totally right! I run a ski swap in NM every year and vendors from all over come; yet some of them are so rude. I don’t believe that they do it just to be rude to girls, I feel like there is a stereotype for girl ski/snowboarders. I figured this out when working with snowboards/skis selling and matching buyers with there board/ski size. While doing this I always came across the problem. The stereotype is the girl that acts like “Barbie” and is all over her avid skier boyfriend and try’s to pretend what she is talking about. When all she cares about is the color the pattern and how pretty it is. This is not common but like you said about one bad apple makes us all look dumb. I know more great girl skiers then I do male, but because there always some “poser” girl that comes along we all get judged. So I feel that in your blog you should have addressed the issue with girls acting up, that there are two sides to every story. I agree with you but stereotype do have some truth to them unfortunately. I have been on the other side of the coin too where just the other day I needed some new gloves (I am a ski patroller and rip my gloves up a lot) and the clerk rolled his eyes when I said I needed to buy 2 pairs. I felt like walking out and spending my money somewhere else. I have been skiing for 15 years and a ski patroller for 3, I know what I need. Though I think that if girls did not act so immature when buying gear maybe we would get more respect. I have personally found that if I tell the sells person some of my experience to show I am not a beginner I get treated a whole lot better. That is really not fair that I have to do that and I feel like I am being stuck up, but it works! What I also do is for (girl) friends that are new I offer to go with them, one so they don’t get walked all over and two get over charged at the store(s). There’s not much that can be done for the “Barbie” type but if everyone else has help maybe there will be more respect for the girl ski/snowboarder.
That’s my personal opinion but in direct relation to your blog I agree there are shops here I wont go to because of the way I was treated there. I have had the entire topic you brought up happen to me all at once! This type of treatment boils my blood. Thank you for putting this out there these guys needed to be called out.
have a good season! 🙂