Snow Spurs Biz at Ski Resorts

NEW YORK — Many ski resorts across the country were blanketed with fresh snow last week — and the winter weather is boosting sales.

“We had a good snow leading into Christmas, so that was obviously helpful,” said Lori Harris, owner of Mary Jane’s in Park City, Utah, which has received 40 inches of snow in the past two weeks.

She noted that Ugg, Pajar, Frye and other waterproof styles are among the retailer’s top sellers.

Harris added that store-traffic trends typically correspond directly with weather patterns.

“On a snowy day, we have better business then on a sunny day because in a ski town, you’ve got a lot of tourists, and they’re waiting for that bluebird day,” said Harris.

“When it’s dumping snow outside, people are typically shopping because they think the next day is going to be beautiful and sunny. So a lot of time, that’s where we get our bigger business days.”

Moving into the rest of the month, Harris is looking for a boost from the Sundance Film Festival, which brings nearly 50,000 people to a town that has about 8,000 full-time residents.

“Sundance is probably our 10 busiest days of the year,” she said.

In Telluride, Colo., Sutton Errico, manager of Two Skirts Boutique, said her fortunes are also tied to the snow.

“It’s a love/hate relationship. When it’s cold and a blizzard, people avoid skiing. We have some of our best days when there’s a storm,” said Errico, adding that Aquatalia is the shop’s hottest brand.  “It’s nice to sell an updated, stylish snow boot that goes from après ski to dinner later that night,” she said.

Errico is confident that sales will be steady through the rest of the winter.

“February is another really big month,” Errico said. “Then March comes, and you have families heading to the mountains for spring break, and it will be busy again.”

Bloomingbirds owner Patti Patterson said Pajar and Aquatalia continue to be top-selling brands at her Aspen, Colo., store, along with Sorel and Le Canadienne.

Patterson said footwear is performing better than last year around this time because the economy is stronger, temperatures have been colder and heavy snow is keeping people off the slopes.

Dwane Stover, footwear buyer at Axel’s in Vail, Colo., said the store is having a strong ski season so far. “We’re up 20 percent on footwear sales from last year,” he said.

For the high-end boutique, a unique brand mix is a big selling point: Axel’s stocks Stallion cowboy boots and Italian brands for women, including Alberto Fasciani. Stover said his top sellers by far are men’s British labels such as Edward Green and John Lobb.

Not all resort retailers are doing well, however. On the East Coast, Basin Sports in Killington, Vt., is doing well with ski merchandise, but shoes have been a weak spot. “Every year, we cut our styles and contemplate not carrying footwear at all. We don’t have enough room to carry a ton of styles, and we usually end up selling 40 percent of it at half off,” said President Christine Torrey.

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