Swap meet helps skiers hit slopes

The second day of the Ski Swap Meet takes place today from 10-4 p.m. Used items can be consigned from 10-noon.

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WALLA WALLA — Ski season is just around the corner, and the proof is at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds this weekend.

The annual Ski Swap Meet takes place this weekend, as hundreds of skiers make a run to one of the largest collections of used ski supplies in the Valley.

“I am cleaning the garage, letting someone else enjoy them,” said Roy Buttice as he dragged in three sets of skis that once belonged to him, his wife and daughter.

On Saturday, approximately 50 people roamed the community room at the fairgrounds, shopping among a mixture of used and new ski equipment.

This history of the Ski Swap Meet goes back past the 1970s, but workers were uncertain just how far back.

“In the ’70s I started working here, so probably even before that because they were doing it before I started,” one worker said.

In the past, the swap meet has been a fundraiser for groups like the ski patrol, and it has been held at Walla Walla High School, the Masonic Temple and other locations.

How it works is sellers arrive in the morning, arms often burdened with boots, poles and skis. With a little help from the workers, they price their items and leave them to be sold. The cost for the service is a 25 percent commission.

Then at 1 p.m. on Saturday, the line of buyers is let in.

“They (buyers) are looking for deals, and we tell them (sellers) make it the lowest they are willing to get for it,” Ski Swap Meet co-organizer Merrylou Maland said.

The numbers of used items will vary each year, but Maland said they usually have more than 100 items.

The recommended markdown is 30 to 65 percent, depending on the age of the item, though some items get marked down much more.

“It’s like VHS players. In the day you paid $600 for them. Now you might get $3 for one,” Matt Seward said, as he registered the three sets of skis brought in by Buttice.

Kids equipment tends to sell the fastest, co-organizer John Maland said. And every once in a while there is that unusual item that has little to do with skiing.

“We have gotten a wind surfing board. And we said sure, we will consign it. It didn’t sell,” Maland said.

Along with the used items, Dusty’s Ski Shop & Rentals also sells numerous new items at the two-day event.

The second day of the Ski Swap Meet takes place today from 10-4 p.m. Used items can be consigned from 10-noon.

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