Shipping skis a matter of convenience
It happens every year like clockwork. Right around Thanksgiving, said UPS Store Manager Garison Brown, the packages start coming in, ski and snowboard equipment arriving in Park City ahead of vacationers. And it’s more common than you might think.
"At this point I’d say it’s slowed to a steady trickle," Brown said. "But we’re still seeing somewhere between five and 10 a day."
Five to 10 people, every day, either picking up their equipment at the UPS Store at 1776 Park Ave. or shipping it back home.
"We’ll probably be busiest the week after ski season ends," Brown said. "When everyone is going home and they’ve done their last runs."
Why ship gear through UPS or FedEx rather than checking it at the airport? Brown said most often it is not a matter of cost. Mostly, he said, the reason he hears is convenience.
"They just don’t want to check it," he said. "Or maybe they aren’t going straight home. They’re going to Miami first, and they’re not going to do any skiing in Florida. This way their gear is home waiting for them.
"Again, it’s just peace of mind. And not having to carry all of it from one end of an airport terminal to another."
Miguel Soza, has worked at Shippack Place at 1600 Snow Creek Dr. four years and he said even in that time he has noticed an increase in people shipping their winter sports gear.
"Pretty much that’s all we do in the winter," he said. "Skis and snowboards. We get really busy in mid-December and it stays busy through April."
Soza said Shippack at its busiest could see more than 60 items a day arrive for pickup (that’s 60 items total, including skis and gear like poles and bindings). Soza said, like Brown, the reason he hears most often has nothing to do with the cost.
"They don’t want to carry it through the airport. They don’t like having all that stuff," he said. "Getting it through the airport is a hassle. So they ship it."
Soza said some customers have FedEx accounts, and in that case it might be cheaper to ship all their gear. But for the average customer, it depends on the location.
"It costs, what, $50 to check a bag? One of these packages of skis, it costs $90 to ship it to New York," he said. "It costs about $45 to ship to California. So it really depends."
Ann Ober, senior policy advisor at Park City, traveled to Switzerland last February with a group of Park City and Summit County council members as part of the Mountain Accord. They went, she said, to study modes of transportation there, and if convenience is the biggest reason why people are shipping their snow sports gear instead of checking it Ober said they would definitely appreciate the travel experience in Switzerland.
"One of the really neat things was that we were able to check our luggage at the train station and have it carried all the way through to the airport," she said. "So while we were traveling we could get off the train and go see things we otherwise might have been resistant to if we had to carry our luggage with us."
Ober said that experience stuck with her and it’s something policymakers are taking into account.
"Figuring out a way to move people from hotels to airports in a more seamless fashion that last day or that first day in town," she said. "For us here, I think that is something that is really up to our resorts, for the most part. But if there is any way the city can be helpful in achieving that, it would be a great opportunity."
Ober said while it is great that shipping stores are filling a need, in an ideal world they would not have to.
"If we, say, create a mass transit system from the airport to Park City," she said. "Can we do something [like Switzerland] here, as well? Can luggage go without you so you can go enjoy the town right away? We have to figure out how to transport people in the most effective way possible."
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Along with the coming winter, so returns Park City’s much-discussed drop-and-load zones.