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Families That Ski Together, Shop Together

03/21/2012

Amanda Markert

Skiing Business

Families are a gold mine for any shop. As each child grows, Mom and Dad need to buy him or her that new ski jacket or larger boot size.

Joe’s Sporting Goods in St. Paul, Minn., which won a Skiing Business Industry Award for Best Family Shop, not only sees the importance of catering to families but also allowing them to explore the outdoors together.

Jason Gohdes, Joe’s Internet sales manager, shares the shop’s approach to family and community engagement.
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How do you market to families?
Throughout the season we have different events that cater to families. One big offering we push during the ski season is the promotion of a local ski school to get kids out on the slopes and their families involved with the sport.

During the summer we participate in several events such as the “Explore Your Parks Day” that Minnesota State Parks puts on. We bring a trailer full of kayaks and canoes so families can get their feet wet with one of the fastest growing sports in our area. One important thing is to have the customer and families try the product so they can see what it’s like first hand. Unlike team sports, many of the outdoor industry sports are family friendly. They’re a great way to interact as a family and get the kids outside experiencing new things that they can participate in for life.

How do you involve the local community?
We offer several incentives for high school ski race teams throughout the year. First, we offer a Great Racers Excellent Rewards program, which tracks sales for each individual high school ski team. At the end of the year we offer 2 percent cash back to the high school’s ski team. They can use the funds however they would like, but it must be used for the ski team.

We also offer a volunteering event for high school ski team members. First is our highway cleanup in April. This gets the racers involved with the community and teaches them team building outside of their ski practices and races. In the fall we offer volunteering hours during our ski swap. Each year we select a local high school ski team to assist with set up and tear down at the ski swap. At the end we donate part of the proceeds to that ski team which helps buy gate time along with the numerous other expenses they have.
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Do you put a lot of emphasis on youth gear and apparel?
As of late we have been putting more focus on this area considering that kids are the ones that typically need new equipment and outerwear year after year. The couple areas we’ve seen more activity in are footwear, winter outerwear, and junior accessories such as helmets and goggles.

What are other shops doing in terms of family engagement that you think is good or bad?
I have seen local shops doing everything from a Kids 5K event to a “take your kids camping excursion.” Any of these events are great to organize but may not be the money generators like a Race Night or Ladies Night. But, when kids get involved in a sport there’s a good chance that parents will be involved soon if they aren’t already.