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Retail May Help Save Mt Ashland, Can it Save Other Small Areas as Well?

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With my love of small business, it may surprise you to learn that the group of ski areas I’m most critical of the little guys. The mom-n-pop hills.

But in many ways this confession should be expected. It’s like chewing out the quarterback from your alma-mater and not giving too shakes about the guy playing the same position on the other team.

In both cases, we’re critical because we care. I’m critical because I want them to win.

Small Fry
A couple of you heard my frustration over yet another crowdfunding campaign for a small ski area: Mt Ashland. Don’t get me wrong, I hope they get some extra cash, but as much as we talk about sustainability, constantly seeking donations is anything but.

Or are they? Because when you look at their perks…


…they start to look a lot like…


Think about that for a second, this crowdfunding campaign is little more than a online retail store.

A Story
Years ago I was marketing a very seasonal, very weather dependent, very geographically limited product.

One year, wanting one for myself, I decided to sell t-shirts. I let my customers vote on their favorite, got social followers involved as well, and after printing up a big batch sold it out almost immediately.

There were two, glaring lessons from that experience that I completely missed at the time and only realized just recently:

  1. These customers didn’t come from the tight geographic limits of my normal market.
  2. Even more, these sales made up 5% of total revenues that year.

I thought I had a product I could only sell in a small geographic area. I was wrong. My brand was also a product that, through retail, I could sell anywhere.

Businesses Need Money
I would love nothing more than to see non-profit ski areas not need a cent of donations to stay afloat. Instead, I want them to thrive as the businesses they are.

That’s truly sustainable.

What Mt Ashland’s Indiegogo campaign has taught us is that these hills may only have a small, weather-dependent market locally, but their brand is a product and they can sell that to anyone, anywhere, in any weather.

Can retail save small areas? There are surely reasons why it couldn’t, but there are also reasons why this extension of the brand could be a helpful ally in this fight.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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