Industry News 2/19/2008

30th Annual SSL Winter Sports Market a Huge Success

30th Annual SSL Winter Sports Market a Huge Success

Sports Specialists Limited (SSL), a leading retailer-owned specialty buying group for the snow sports, action sports, bike, outdoor, and casual outdoor furniture industries, reported a thriving and optimistic Winter Sports Market ’08.  In addition to experiencing very high retailer turnout, SSL observed a positive show climate, fruitful management and buyer meetings, excellent supplier participation and cooperation, and an exceptional line of new products.

Held January 26-31, 2008 at the Mandalay Bay Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, and preceding the SIA SnowSports Show, the Winter Sports Market (WSM) is an annual private trade show organized by SSL for its retailers and preferred suppliers.  2008 marked the 30th year that SSL has held this special show.


“This year’s WSM show was very well attended by our retailers, an increase of 10% over last year.” stated Steve Rogers, President and CEO of SSL.  “More stores were present, as well as more buyers from each store.”  Rogers credits the high turnout to the show dates falling later on the calendar, more retailers being comfortable with the WSM show immediately preceding the SIA show, and the fact that, thanks to Mother Nature, retailers across the country are having a strong year.


The WSM show got a kickstart the first day with a presentation on “Seven Key Insights for Marketing to Women” given by Tami Anderson of andHow marketing.  Not only did she share practical tools and techniques to cater more effectively to today’s most influential and lucrative consumer market, Anderson spent the last 30 minutes interacting with the group and answering specific retailer questions.

“It was a great presentation, very valuable,” commented Gordon Geiger of Geiger’s Ski & Sport Haus in Lakewood, OH.  “We have been actively marketing to women for some time now, but it’s reassuring to know we’re on the right track.”


One of the highlights of the week was the open forum and management discussion with the Burton Sales Management team.  The company shared their strategy for 2009, including upcoming plans for e-commerce, green initiatives and the promotion and sponsorship of their team of athletes.  They also took the time to address retailer issues of delivery and product fulfillment.  “This is one of the most valuable aspects of the WSM show,” stated Alan Newman, owner of Alpine BoardSports in Phoenix, AZ and SSL retailer for over 15 years, “we have the opportunity to interact one-on-one with top management of the major suppliers like Burton, and in turn business relationships are strengthened and become more effective for both partners.”

In addition to presentations from the 76 preferred suppliers, ten new manufacturers were invited to introduce their products to the SSL group: Anakie, a company started by two snowboarders that produces technical snowboarding outerwear for women; CW-X®, manufacturers of anatomically-engineered high performance sports apparel; Degre7, makers of ski and snowboard outerwear for men, women and children; 4FRNT, a youth-oriented brand of twin tip skis, bindings, poles and apparel, owned by a team of professional athletes striving to propel freeride skiing; Nitro Outerwear, created by the makers of Nitro boards, bindings and boots; Norwegian Spirit, importers of quality Norwegian knitwear; Powderhorn, the re-launch of the 1972 clothing company from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with a comprehensive line of base layers, mid-weight and outerwear tops and bottoms; Sessions, manufacturers of snowboarding outerwear and apparel; Skins USA producers of body-molded compression sportswear garments; and Vertical Limit, makers of ski and snowboard outerwear for men, women and children.


SSL is pleased to welcome two new retailers to the group: Dan and Donna Pinewski, owners of Pinewski’s Ski & Board (Anoka, MN) and John Sullivan, owner of East Coast Alpine Shop (Danvers, MA). 

John Sullivan recognized that the benefits of joining SSL go beyond simply increased buying power.  “What I found most valuable about the WSM show were the owners’ roundtable meetings where industry issues were discussed and solutions were shared openly, collaboratively and honestly.  That’s worth lots of money.”

Dan Pinewski felt that the presentations were informative and demonstrated the open channels of communication the group has with its suppliers.  He stated “I am looking forward to seeing the positive effects SSL has on my business this year.”


SSL began a new tradition this year, honoring two suppliers for their longtime support of SSL and its retailers by consistently offering quality products, competitive prices and exceptional customer service.  The first recipients of the annual SSL Supplier of Distinction award were Smith Sport Optics (hardgoods) and Marker LTD (softgoods). 


Congratulations to Jeff and Nancy Buckman of Buckman’s Ski & Snowboard (Pottstown, PA) for winning the Mid-Atlantic Retailer of the Year award.  This award is presented by the SnowSports Industries America (SIA) for consistently making a significant impact in the snow sports industry.