The Daily checked in with independent outdoor retailer Angles Sports in downtown Longmont, Colorado to talk about business trends, early season reads on ski equipment, and what products are working for the small store.
One notable trend: The demand for backcountry gear, primarily splitboards, has completely vanished since the COVID-19 pandemic.
During the pandemic, Angles was selling “a ton” of splitboards and that’s dried up.
“We went from 40 units a season to 35, to 30, and then last season it just stopped,” said owner Ryan Kazee. “We got buried.”
The store still sells safety gear, including beacons, probes, and shovels, but Angles has cut back on splitboard orders.
Working Through Inventory
“I’m sitting on two seasons of (backcountry) inventory,” said Nathan Otteman, manager at Angles. The company is discounting “as long we’re not losing money on it,” he added.
The store is about 5,000 square feet, and Otteman said they’ve been using the basement to manage inventory.
For example, Angles didn’t put in any orders with splitboard brand Weston this year.
“We’re still stocked on their product,” Otteman said.
Angles doesn’t sell a lot of apparel. Otteman hesitates to spend very much on clothing because he doesn’t want to get into the game of trying to gauge what’s fashionable.
Last year was their first big softgoods order, on Volcom and ThirtyTwo, but he’s slowed that way down.
“We’ve definitely cut back a ton,” Otteman said.
The store moved to its downtown Longmont location two years ago this October. Kazee started the store with Matt Burditt in 2015 in a two-car garage.
It began as a consignment exchange with used gear and a tune shop.
“Our meat and potatoes was used backcountry ski gear,” Kazee said. “We had people coming from Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado, wherever, just because we could meet anybody’s budget.”
When the store moved to Main Street, he decided to shift to selling new gear. Kazee said they had to drop the gear exchange because the new gear industry didn’t want its products sitting next to used.
“It was hard because we had our clientele for five, six years,” he added. “But we’re the only shop in town, and if we don’t want competition and we wanted to grow, we had to bring in the new gear.”
The store does about 75% of its business in snow gear, apparel, and rentals, and the rest is fly fishing equipment.
Skis, Boots Garnering Early Season Interest
New for this upcoming ski season, the Rossignol Sender Free 110 skis are “already catching peoples’ eyes,” according to Otteman. With a pattern of teal that fades to red, “it’s probably one of the catchiest colorways on the wall.”
With a full sidewall and the response of a powder ski, it taps into the trend of wide skis being all-mountain. The Sender Free has a 110-millimeter waist. Otteman mentioned that the lightweight technology on the tip of the ski cuts down on swing weight and helps with maneuverability.
A pair sells for $899.95.
Otteman said Faction’s Dancer 3 skis are also getting a lot of interest. These skis are also designed for big mountain skiing, with tip and tail rockers and a 106-millimeter waist. Again, the design is part of the appeal. These skis have a retro, 1970s styling with the kind of stripes you might see on an old Toyota pickup.
These retail at $849.
Faction’s Prodigy skis also are a favorite among customers, and Otteman expects to have some of his younger skiers asking for those.
Angles primarily carries Rossignol boots, and “we crush them,” Otteman said. “They seem to have an awesome profile that just fits a wide range of feet.”
Snowboards, Bindings Feedback
For snowboards, Angles is hopeful that Lib Tech’s Travis Rice Golden Orca will be a strong seller.
“These guys just keep crushing the game,” Otteman said. The board itself hasn’t gone through a major redesign, but aesthetically it’s refreshed. Rice rode this board on the snowboarding TV show Natural Selection, which he won.
Snowboarders who think they can ride like Rice are going to want this one, Otteman said. It retails for $849.
Lib Tech’s Off Ramp is new this season for freestyle and park riders. It has a twin-pill shape with a C3 camber. Otteman described the aesthetic as a ‘90s retro, liquid metal vibe.
Angles is “super excited” to be carrying Now bindings, according to Otteman.
The up-and-coming brand is using a chassis that some snowboarders are finding to have more responsiveness. The bindings transfer energy evenly from the straps to the board edges by pivoting the baseplate on a post that holds the mounting disc.
They’ve been endorsed by celebrity snowboarders such as Jeremy Jones. Prices vary on the bindings.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at email@example.com.