The NOAA National Weather Service says La Niña is back, with above-average precipitation predicted for the Pacific Northwest this late fall/winter. La Niña often brings colder winters to our area. In other words, snow is on the way, and over 6,000 skiers and snowboarders are expected to attend the Pacific Northwest’s largest equipment swap, the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol Ski Swap, to sell their old gear and/or find some great deals on new and used gear for the coming season at the Spokane Fair and Expo Center. Items for sale include skis, bindings, boots, poles, snowboards, gloves, clothing, and accessories. This year’s SWAP, a season kick-off tradition, will be larger and better: “We have expanded into Bay 1 this year, giving us more room for more equipment and more people!” said Dan Edwards, Director of the 2011 MSSP SWAP. “The new space has allowed us to reconfigure the floorplan, which will improve traffic flow through the various departments and create a more efficient check-out system.”
There are several advantages to shopping the SWAP instead of the stores. First, you will get the best selection (over 22,000 items) and deals. Second, you can sell your old equipment for the very reasonable rate of 50 cents per item for registration plus 20% of the selling price to a huge, eager pool of buyers. Third, over 130 experienced members of the Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol will be on hand to help you find the best equipment for your skill level and price range, in addition to the participating retail shop representatives, so beginners need not fear they will be doomed to wander alone and confused amongst endless rows of seemingly similar items. Fourth, all proceeds go to offset costs for operation of the non-profit Mt. Spokane Ski Patrol, including facilities overhead, first aid and medical supplies, training costs, and administrative functions. (These are the nice people who check on you when you wipe out and lay sprawled on the hill, skis and poles scattered, which always seems to happen right under the chair lift–oh wait, maybe that’s just me.) Fifth, it’s fun to shop and mingle with other ski/snowboard enthusiasts!
There is a $5 admission fee for the show (12 years and under free). Hours are Saturday, October 29, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday, October 30, 9 a.m. to noon. If you have gear to sell, drop it off Friday, October 28, from 3–8 p.m., and pick up your check/unsold gear on Sunday from 2–4 p.m. Plenty of free parking is available onsite. Cash, checks, and debit/credit cards are all accepted. There is just one central check-out area, although the gear comes from over 20 retail shops plus individuals. This year, wait times should be shorter due to improvements to the scanning and point-of-sale technology. Sunday, select items will be 25% off, but if you are looking for kids’ gear and clothing, don’t wait and get in line early on Saturday because it goes fast.
There are six ski resorts within a three-hour drive from Spokane: Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park (50 minutes), Silver Mountain Resort (1 hour), 49 Degrees North Mountain Resort (1 hour 45 minutes), Lookout Pass Ski Area (2.5 hours), Schweitzer Mountain Resort (2 hours), and Red Mountain Resort (3 hours).