Ski Swap is a sign that winter's on its way

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— Steamboat Springs Middle School was transformed into a big garage sale Friday and Saturday, though shoppers weren't looking for blenders and old books. They were looking for skis, boots, hats and goggles.

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Executive Director Rick DeVos said the annual Ski Swap, which has been a staple for the community for 20-plus years, saw about 60 percent more people at Friday night's opening than last year.

"It's been really good," he said. "We opened at 8 a.m. today, and so far, we've seen a very steady stream of people coming in."

The Ski Swap is a fundraiser that helps the Winter Sports Club provide services throughout the year, but it is also a great opportunity for residents and first-time skiers or snowboarders to get quality equipment at a reasonable price.

"In this time bracket, this is the last big opportunity for people to get their gear together, get organized and not spend a ton of money," DeVos said.

He said about two-thirds of the original inventory was left Saturday for shoppers to rummage through.

The selection of items ranged from collectors' items, such as a pair of bamboo ski poles, to helmets, boots, socks, skis, pants and snowboards.

DeVos said most of the items that people were selling were used for half of a season or not at all.

"Everyone in the community spent the last week cleaning out garages, barns and basements looking for stuff to sell," he said.

Residents had the opportunity to donate pre-owned items to the sale or price them with hopes of making a profit. The Winter Sports Club received about 30 percent of each sale and a smaller percent from vendors that were selling discounted items.

"We do this because it is a great community fall event. It is the kick-off to winter, and it helps our programs. It's all about getting ready for winter," DeVos said.

Dave and Jodi Terranova were first-time Ski Swap shoppers, and they were able to stock up on their family's needs for winter.

"This was great. We got great stuff, like skis, hats and goggles," Jodi Terranova said.

She said the pricing was good and the selection was varied.

"This is the start of winter for us," she said.

DeVos said many families were able to find items for everyone, including apparel and gear for children, men and women.

He estimates that about 350 people showed up Friday, but he couldn't guess the total for the sale.

"Holy cow, Friday night was crazy. You could barely move, there were so many people inside looking around. There were lots of great deals," he said.

DeVos said that because Steamboat Springs is "Ski Town USA" that most people have a lot of good, barely used items that can benefit bargain hunters.

"This sale is really affordable for people," he said.

DeVos said there are more than 1,000 athletes participating in the Winter Sports Club this year, from ages 3 to 75. He expects this year to be successful and exciting.

"We rally around skiing in this community," he said. "People are very supportive of what we do."

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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