Shop local, even when buying gear

Shop local, even when buying gear


EDMONTON, AB – For me, buying new gear is always stressful. New gear is a considerable investment, and I’m never quite sure of what I really need.

Ten years ago, I was in the market for a new pair of ski boots while teaching skiing at Snow Valley in Edmonton. I hadn’t given much thought to how a ski boot should fit until I was certified by the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance. Before then, I would just buy whatever was on sale at the large, generic sports chain at the mall.  While I was teaching, though, a number of friends and colleagues recommended that I see Vern Mark – “the ski boot expert” – at Sundance Ski & Snowboard Shop in Edmonton.

It is now 10 years after that visit and Vern’s attention to detail remains fresh in my mind. He took the time to assess my abilities, learn what I wanted from the boot, and personally fit the boot to my foot.

Finding the right fit

Now, a decade later, it was certainly time for me to update my gear. In order to compare prices, I stopped at one of the large chain stores in my area. After leaving a little wide-eyed, I headed directly to Sundance. When I walked inside, what do I immediately see but Vern’s smiling face. After ten years he was still there, helping people find the right fit. 

Not knowing exactly what I wanted (or needed) for my upcoming trip to Revelstoke, Vern and Mike Perron took the time to listen to what I thought I was looking for, and then walked me through the options of each ski. They happily suggested I try a pair of demo skis – available to rent to “try before you buy.” The demos available at Sundance are impressive, and it’s the best way to get a feel for a set of sticks.

Jim Hillman, one of the new owners of Sundance, explained that what sets Sundance apart from any ski and snowboard shop is their commitment to the industry. The staff at Sundance has a combined 153 years of working experience in the ski and snowboard industry. 153 years of experience! How can any temporary ski/snowboard outfitter compete with that? Over half the staff at Sundance are certified ski or snowboard instructors, and combined the staff has been skiing or riding for 276 years – pretty impressive numbers.  

Independent over chain stores

Not only does the knowledge and experience in the ski and snowboard industry set the Sundance team apart, but they are genuinely concerned with your ride. Hillman explained in one case where they actually had a customer interested in a pair of skis that were completely inappropriate for what his ability and needs were and actually sold a pair that were considerably more inexpensive than what he thought he wanted. Compare that shopping experience to one at a large chain sports store, where the employee works on commission – where do you think you’ll end up with the proper-fitting gear?

At a time where the shopping local message has never been stronger, Sundance is a shining example of how an independent small business can succeed over a large chain. The care, attention to detail, and experience led to a fantastic day on the slopes with my demo skis and gave me the confidence to take the plunge and invest in some new gear.

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