The Elk’s Lodge, the hotel conference room, the middle school gymnasium: those are the places where skiers gather in the fall of the year. Those are the sorts of places reserved by clubs, teams, retailers, and those whose garages and basements are chock-full of skis, poles, boots, suits, and miscellaneous ski-related gear. It’s time for the annual Ski Swap and Sale.
Cross country skiing is not a sport that’s rich with sponsorship, or that benefits from big prize money, of that is bankrolled by a population of wealthy, deep-pocketed devotees. To keep trail systems going, to keep clubs going, to keep young skiers and masters’ programs going, many organizations seek to support their needs through the staging of seasonal ski sales. These are events where institutional knowledge comes in handy: someone needs to remember how things were done last season. Who makes the signs? Who does event advertising? How to tag and price the items? How to collect sales revenue? How to pay those whose gear has sold? Where does the cash register go? What about the folding chairs and display tables? What’s the wifi password? Has anyone checked the bathrooms? The whole thing adds up to the sort of Mom n’ Pop operation on which our sport depends: many hands making light work, many being introduced to our sport, and many snowy days ahead of us.
This is how the ski season begins. So watch for classified ads in the local paper, for notices in Shopper Give-Aways, for posters on local bulletin boards, for reminders on social media. The Ski Swap and Sale is coming soon to a ballroom, conference room, gymnasium near you; whether as buyers or a sellers, those are the places where skiers gather in the fall of the year.
And at the end of the evening—after all the sellers have been paid, and the chairs and tables folded, and the signs taken down, and the floors swept—then we’ll drive home through the autumn darkness with backseats full of treasures—both new and used—to speed us across the snow that is soon to arrive.