On the Hill: The swap again
November 7, 2006
I swore I wasn’t going to do it again, but I did. Like most years, I thought I’d just let the annual Aspen Ski Swap come and go without the honor of my presence. It’s been a long time since I’ve been excited about the prospect of fighting the long lines, making small talk with people I’ve known for years but don’t actually want to see, and looking for bargains on ski clothing and equipment I really don’t need.Many people can’t wait to go to the swap because they need (or want) newer equipment, but don’t want to fork over the extra green necessary for this year’s latest and greatest brand-name gear. They also actually seem to enjoy the chitchat and camaraderie that goes with it. The secret to getting the best equipment and the best deals is to somehow work your way into being able to shop the night before. Most people accomplish this by graciously volunteering for set-up, tear-down and other related service activities. Others are lucky enough to be associated with businesses that also generously contribute time and money, and therefore receive invitations to shop early. Finally, there are always a few people who seem to excel at finagling their way into events like this. Since I’m basically lazy, don’t work for any donating companies and am not really very unscrupulous or sneaky, I had to go on Saturday, if at all. Really though, one can indeed find many good deals there, and the upside to the growth of the swap since it’s inception is an excellent selection to choose from.After much agonizing I reluctantly decided to go. I timed it perfectly. I avoided the eager early birds waiting in line like sleep-deprived groupies camping out all night for Nickelback tickets. In fact, my procrastinative nature allowed me to dodge even the fashionably late who tend to arrive at events like this on “Aspen time.” I dragged myself in at about 12:30 p.m.. I know several people who were quite satisfied with their loot, needed or not. Personally, I didn’t have much time to scout around very hard for items I didn’t really require, but would have bought anyway, so I left instead with someone’s old Obermeyer fleece jacket and some brand new (well, last year’s) wool ski socks. OK, I didn’t actually need another fleece, but socks without holes might keep my toes warm this winter. More importantly, I managed to contribute a little money while avoiding the lines, the moshing and most of the small talk in the process. I didn’t want to go, but I’m glad I went.