After Boston’s Snowbound Festival was officially cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ray Stenson’s plan went into action.
“We came up with the idea almost immediately because it was almost a no-brainer,” said the owner of Country Ski and Sport, a ski and snowboard outfitter based in Massachusetts.
That idea was to re-create the popular ski expo, albeit on a much smaller scale, at his ski shop’s warehouse in Hanover, Mass. As the official retailer of the Snowbound Festival, Country Ski and Sport had plenty of inventory reserved for the expo, equipment and apparel that will now be available over the same time period (Nov. 19-22), at a new location (389 Columbia Road, #20).
“We’ve reconfigured our warehouse to be a 15,000 square-foot retail store,” said Stenson, who also hopes to have about 8-10 local ski areas on hand to offer deals and discuss the challenges of the upcoming season. The first two he resorts called — Wachusett Mountain and Bretton Woods — both immediately accepted invitations.
“What they’re going to do, no one knows yet,” Stenson said. “We don’t know where we’re going to be at.”
Stenson had known for a few months that the popular Boston ski show wasn’t going to be able to go off as planned in the midst of coronavirus. Originally scheduled to be held at the downtown Hynes Convention Center, the ski expo has always been seen as the unofficial kickoff to ski season in New England, a way to generate the stoke for the winter, and an opportunity to score some notable preseason deals.
It was also a four-day period during which Country Ski did about 20 percent of its annual business.
So, Stenson figured, Country Ski and Sport should try and recreate the same sort of vibe the expo usually delivers by opening up his shop’s warehouse in Hanover.
After getting official word from Snowsports Industries of America that the festival would have to be cancelled, Stenson had to wait for approval from the SIA board. They unanimously agreed.
“They wanted a placeholder,” Stenson said. “They don’t want this to go by this year without any kind of publication or spreading the word. ‘Go down to Hanover, get the deals, and we’ll be back next year.’”
Beer and food trucks will also be on hand to try and preserve some of the festive atmosphere normally reserved for the Boston expo. “Just try and make something happen,” Stenson said. “Just keep it going like a placeholder.”
Stenson had been working closely with SIA since last year’s ski show because of the transition from former host BEWI Productions. Just like the Snowbound Festival, Country Ski’s expo will be held over the same dates, Nov. 19-22. Unlike the Boston ski show, there will be free admission and free parking.
All social distancing procedures will be followed according to the state’s guidelines for November.
The Hanover warehouse, which will also host its annual sale in September, is being doubled in use this year as a leasing center to take up some of limited space Country Ski has in its Quincy store. The location in Westwood also, recently, doubled in size, after taking over the AT&T store located next door.