Saturday December 1, 2012

DOVER -- The Cupola re-opened last Saturday, and it is not your ordinary ski and snowboard shop.

"With the way the discounts went, people were going with all types of products," said Justin Hongell, retail manager and buyer for Mount Snow Resorts. "Multiples of different items were going, so it was really good."

The Cupola is a concept shop now, which means manufacturers have their own space within the building. Last year, it opened as a regular ski and snowboard retail store. This year, Mount Snow had different plans.

Instead of opening up another Backside Snowboard shop, like the one at the Base Lodge, the resort decided to make the building a concept shop.

Mount Snow also decided to call it The Cupola, which was what that store was called when Mount Snow previously owned it. That was before Alpine Trader Ski and Sports owned the space. Alpine Trader ended up selling the space back to Mount Snow.

"We decided to name it that because of the name recognition and historical reference," said Communications Manager at Mount Snow Dave Meeker.

The grand re-opening offered customers free cider, donuts, hot dogs and water all throughout the day. There were special deals so that if customers spent a certain amount of money, they got free or $49 lift-tickets.

The Cupola also offered a pop-up balloon discount, Meeker referred to as "Shop and Pop."

When customers got to the register, a balloon would be pulled that dictated a discount on top of whatever was already being offered. The discounts ranged from 10 to 50 percent off.

"People got some really good deals," said Hongell.

The manufacturers that have spots in the shop include Under Armour, Skullcandy, Smith Optics, Neff, Mountain Hardware, Burton and Line.

The Cupola allows skiers and riders to buy their lift tickets the day or night before, so that people can avoid waiting in line for buying the tickets in the morning. The service is called the "Midnight Express" because it is open until midnight. It also includes rentals.

Another service that the Cupola touts is an operation called "Rentals On Demand," where customers can go online or call the store and then rentals will be delivered. It comes from an idea that started out in Colorado, called "Ski Butlers."

It costs $20 more than coming in and renting equipment the old-fashioned way. The service is limited to customers staying as far away as Wilmington in one direction and Wardsboro in the other.

When asked about this year's snow predictions, both Hongell and Meeker were hopeful.

"That's the magic question," said Meeker. "The elephant in the room. We made lemonade out of lemons last year, but this year, we hope to have a lot of help from mother nature."

"Anything's better than last year," said Hongell.

Chris Mays can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or cmays@reformer.com