CMC students learn the ropes of selling skis, snowboards
November 22, 2009
Steamboat Springs — The lessons were supposed to be about pitching products and addressing customers. And in a mini marketplace — the transformed Schaffrick Lounge in Willett Hall at Colorado Mountain College's Alpine Campus — those lessons were learned by the school's ski and snowboard business and retail sales class.
"What we're trying to get them to take out of this is how to sell," said Tim Widmer, assistant professor in ski and snowboard business. "It's about getting them to speak on a more professional level, which they'll need to work in the ski and snowboard industry."
That wasn't the only economics lesson being taught at the event Thursday night, however.
The AKCESION snowboard isn't like anything you can find in a local shop, at least in terms of looks, anyway.
A ski and snowboard production class at the school selected the innards of the board, and it was built by Liberty, an Avon-based ski and snowboard manufacturing company. Its top sheet, however, is a shiny picture of an AK-47 flanked by stacks of cash and piles of bling.
It's unique, and that's a fact that wasn't lost on freshman Tom Moroney.
It wasn't the intended lesson, but Moroney decided to employ a little supply-and-demand reasoning. Class members were split into separate groups, and each was given one style of snowboard or skis to sell.
Moroney and his team were assigned to sell the AKCESION, but after the first three sold in the initial rush Thursday night, Moroney bought up the remaining seven for $150 each. Eventually, he hopes to demand a higher price for the rare board.
"It's a unique opportunity," said the Boston freshman, who envisions a career with a snowboard company. "As an investment, I can't see how even if I sat on them for three years, I couldn't sell them for at least what I bought them for."
The idea behind Thursday's sale was twofold.
First, the hope was to recoup some of the money CMC invested in the boards in the first place. Each of the students in the original board production class received a version they had designed, but because the companies enlisted to fabricate the boards require a larger production run than there usually are students, the school is stuck with leftovers.
By selling those leftovers to students and the community, the school can recoup its expense.
It was about more than the bottom line, though.
"We look at this program as the training grounds for a lot of the shops in this town," Widmer said. "This is invaluable. Aside from going out and working in the shop, this is as close as you can get. That's what we're always trying to do — make it applicable instead of just reading out of a sales book."
In that vein, students did their best to pitch their product.
Some were tasked with pre-sale marketing and tried to spread the word about their products with everything from fliers to Facebook messages.
Others designed the booth and got the product ready to sell.
Freshman Jake Johnson cradled a brightly colored board designed and painted by CMC students but built by Never Summer Snowboards in Denver, and he did his best to unload it.
"It's got an aspen and poplar core, so it's stiff, but not too stiff. It's a twin, so it's the same length from the inserts on each end, so it's good for the park and stiff enough to ride in the powder," he said. "The graphic is custom by a CMC student. They only made 30.
"It's just a great all-around board."
He was nearly successful twice early in the sale, but as the three-hour event dragged on, the $300 beauty remained up for grabs.
He wasn't alone, as many of the boards and skis brought to the sale didn't leave with customers. Still, Widmer said that can be an important lesson, too, and as the evening wrapped up, he was satisfied with everything.
"All in all, it's gone well," he said.
The unsold stock from Thursday night's sale is available to customers at the CMC bookstore in Willett Hall. The equipment, all produced by Liberty or Never Summer and designed by CMC students, costs $150 to $300.