How to Buy & Sell Effectively at Preseason Swaps & Sales

Whether you are a buyer or a seller, preseason ski sales are an exciting time. There are lots of new toys to inspect and drool over, alongside a hodgepodge of relics, ex-rentals, curios, hand-me-downs and, amidst the dross, some rare gems of recent vintage at come-hither prices.  If you want advice on buying a new ski, that’s what the rest of realskiers is all about, so I’d suggest you begin your search with our handy START HERE menu of introductory information. However, if you are planning on plundering the used ski market, read on.

How to be a Smart Buyer

First and foremost, know what you’re looking for.  “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there” isn’t a helpful mantra for swap or mega-sale success.  Be as prepared as possible, to wit:


  • Know the model and length of ski you want before you show up. Failing that level of detail, as least know what kind of ski you’re looking for.
  • Don’t depend on your first model choice being available. Have a Plan B. And C. You’re in the used market now, so you have to be flexible.
  • Take a closer look at mounted skis priced for less than $100. There is such a thing as too good a deal. Think obsolete bindings…
  • Inspect what you’re buying. A ski’s condition reveals its history. Not that you can’t retune a trashed ski, but a ski that’s been well cared for will probably ski better.
  • Unless it’s an outright steal, don’t buy a used ski that isn’t mounted. The savvy used ski seller (see below) knows better than to sell a naked, drilled ski.
  • If you’re buying for a child, whatever you do don’t get too long a ski. Ask someone qualified if the binding is suitable for a child.
  • If you’re buying boots at a swap, God help you. In His absence, seek mortal assistance. Left to your own devices, you’re likely to oversize the boot. An unguided tour through a thicket of used boots is unlikely to end in a happy place.
  • If you plan to try on boots, bring ski socks.
  • Get there early. If you show up the afternoon on the third day of a 3-day swap or preseason sale, the best-in-show selections will be well picked over.


How to be a Smart Seller


Rule number one: don’t get greedy. Price a ski or boot too high and you’ll continue to own it until it’s worth nothing.  Other primordial do’s and don’ts include:


  • Rule of thumb: price a good-condition, used ski/binding at the market price of the binding.
  • Don’t try to sell a used pair of skis without their bindings. They look like orphans, or worse, cribbage boards.  Their market value is perforce low.
  • Tune and finish the ski base and edges. No one wants to buy a car with flat tires.
  • Know if your product is past all reasonable hope of re-use. If the equipment is over 20 years old, please dispose of it appropriately and quietly.  Anything over 10 years old is suspect and in any case will have a minimal market value.
  • If you’re trying to hawk used boots, at least put a clean stock insole in place of the custom insole we trust you removed. No insole, no sale.
  • Don’t be blinded by love, which is another way of restating rule number one. Of course you love your old skis, but you can’t put a price on love. If you want them to move, price them for less than what you believe in your heart they’re worth.


If you happen to be in Reno, Nevada over Labor Day, drop by Bobo’s on Moana Lane. I’ll be there, serving my fellow man.


Next time you feel compelled to pray, pray for snow!



– Jackson Hogen