Why are skis so expensive in the US?

More
3 years 11 months ago #32212 by MCImes
As you may know im trolling the interwebs for a Fenn Bluefin or XT. In my searching I looked up Fenn boats for sale in south Africa just for kicks. Doing the $ to Rand conversion, for a brand new Hybrid Vac XT Double, I estimate that costs about $1800 USD. The comparable US price is $3800ish.

I understand there are import duties, shipping costs, and dealer margin, but that really adds up to $2000 more? I know it only costs about $4000usd to ship a container across the sea. I assume you can fit 30-40, probably more skis in a container, so on the high side that only adds a couple hundred dollars to the retail price. I have no idea what import duties are, but im sure they're not 50%. I know dealers probably want a decent margin, as its a low volume business, but even at 50% dealer margin that still puts the price in the low $3000's...

What am I missing here? How does a ski go from <$2000 domestically in SA to $4000 in the US? Its not just fenn - the going rate for a 12kg ski in the US is close to $4k regardless of mfg.

I'm quite sure it would turn into a shitshow trying to organize, but has anyone attempted a group buy? If you could find even 10 people to split a shipping container cost it would still be much cheaper than buying domestically from a dealer. Especially with many boats coming from (low cost) China, I dont understand how they get marked up so much.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32213 by zachhandler
I was part of a group a few years ago trying to fill a container with Knysna and Kayak Center K1s. They are dirt cheap in SA, and even factoring in the shipping cost, it was going to be dirt cheap by the time they got here. I think on the order of $1500 US for a new carbon K1 and about half that for glass. We had about 20 or 30 people ready to put down money. It was going to be great. We invested about 6 months of work. The guy in Michigan that was the instigator of this did most of the work, and from what he said it was a lot of work. There were issues. One was what to do with potential damage to boats in transport. Do we all share the risk and as a group and all share the cost of a broken boat, or is each guy on his own? Is shipping a flat fee per person per boat, or is it proportional to cost of the boat, and what about paddles, spray skirts, etc? Another issue, from what people in the know told us, is that it is hard to get everything done the way you want with a huge order like that, without someone on the ground in SA to check over things at the factory. Maybe that is not true but that is what we were told. Another issue was how to transport the boats once they are on the continent, which is a much bigger hassle in the midwest than in california. As we got more people interested in the group purchase, a potential buyer got involved who made unreasonable demands of the group; basically arguing that the others should pay for his shipping costs. That almost broke the whole operation, which was a fragile alliance to begin with. I think the final straw was the paperwork. The guy in michigan was told that he could not go through with the shipping container unless he went through the legal work of becoming a corporation. he could not stomach that (I don't blame him) and that was the end of it. Another issue is that some importers have exclusive importation deals with the manufacturers. For example, I think OPS is the only one allowed to import Fenn to this country.



That was our experience. If you get something going count me in. I am still lusting after an 8.5 kg marathon K1 with pedal steering...

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
The following user(s) said Thank You: mckengmsurfski

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32214 by DrA5
I noticed the same regarding Revo boats. When I was first checking into them, they had a ton of great features for what looked like $1800 USD MSRP, when doing the conversion from Rand. But that number ramped up to the standard price for a mid to higher end US surfski of near $3K in actuality. Still scratching my head at that one, because for $1800, I would buy one site unseen and without a test paddle, but for near $3K USD, no way. Test paddle first.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32215 by Dicko
Skis are expensive because some poor bugger is prepared to do all the hard yards, risk his money up front, risk the damage, the repairs, the hassle, the problems associated with import duties, fluctuations in the markets, the fact that he can import a ski and someone else designs a new flavour of the month and the 40 skis you've just spent $40k on are now redundant, or someone has just got on surfski info and bagged them or complained about the build quality, etc, etc. and whoever is prepared to do that has decided that he wants to double his money or it's not worth the effort.
If you want a cheap ski, put in the effort and you'll be rewarded.
I've had mates try to buy single skis (Zeppelins) from SA simply because they couldn't get them in Australia, and eventually gave up because it was just too hard.
The following user(s) said Thank You: mckengmsurfski

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32216 by LakeMan
The US just needs to make them here. With our taxes now lower and business skyrocketing someone could start a business, make some great designs, and undercut the competition. Even $500 less makes a big difference. I buy Americans made whenever possible.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32217 by zachhandler
Lakeman - so you paddle a huki?

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy
The following user(s) said Thank You: Fath2o

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32218 by LakeMan
Nope. Not made in the USA. Made in California.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts." - Winston Churchill

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32219 by Fath2o

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32220 by Fath2o
Funny thing is Hukis are more expensive than foreign skis, but, I believe they are superior construction quality.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32222 by Wombat661
Surfski is not the only sports equipment that is expensive. I call it the MAMIL effect. It stands for Middle-Aged Man in Lycra. You can youtube that. It has to do with demographics. You have a large generation of babyboomers that is entering middle age. They realized they either get in shape or perish. So they pick a sports. There are a large number of these people getting into road riding. Most of them have established career, a house, sizable 401k account, and probably kids out of the house. In another word, they are made of $$$. I have been looking at cycle gears since the 80's. I absolutely noticed cost of top end bikes has skyrocket. Not uncommon for moderate top end to be $4,000.

It was interesting to note the demographics of the participants that entered the Gorge Downwind Champs.

www.gorgedownwindchamps.com/single-post/...-1st-2017---MORE-NOW

81% of the surfski participants were aged 40 and up. 56% were aged 50 and up. I will lay money on it that many of those who are 50 and up has a well established career. If you are passionate about something, $4000 is nothing. You can buy a hybrid construction for $3000 or carbon for $4000, so why not pay a little more. What else are you going to spend your money on?

I remember in the late 90's and 00, a Futura surfski was not that expensive. $1500. Carbon was close to $2000. Same with Huki. Account for inflation, that would be $2200- $3000. My prediction is when the babyboomers finally hangs up the paddle, price of sport equipment will come down again. Millennials I see would never pay that kind of money for a surfski. They are still paying off college tuition. Have not even saved for a house yet.
The following user(s) said Thank You: Sam_Atlas

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32223 by MCImes

Wombat661 wrote: 81% of the surfski participants were aged 40 and up. 56% were aged 50 and up. I will lay money on it that many of those who are 50 and up has a well established career. If you are passionate about something, $4000 is nothing. You can buy a hybrid construction for $3000 or carbon for $4000, so why not pay a little more. What else are you going to spend your money on?


I think you hit the nail on the head, but its just too bad IMO, as cost is the primary barrier to entry for many people (myself included)

Dear companies: If you want any customers in 20 years (or less), make affordable boats that young people can buy. All paddle sports are turning into gray hair sports and you have less customers every day (in the US at least). Just look at the overall decline of paddled boat sales, that trend is not going to reverse any time soon.

I am 33 and by far the youngest person I ever see with a nice boat or surfski. Certainty by faaaaaar the youngest person I have met with a (mini) fleet 3 boats - but I have bought them all used and waited for very good deals.

I'd buy a new fenn tomorrow, but like you say I have plenty of student debt like the rest of my generation. A $2000 boat is a hell of a lot more affordable than close to 4k (not to mention the used market would follow... I can only dream of a $500 used fenn). America does not have youth boat clubs to promote the sport or a strong paddling community in most places, so you're on your own if you want a boat.

Just makes me frustrated looking at SA; you have such a good domestic boat market it makes me envious and disappointed that we do not have anything remotely comparable. Apparently enough Boomers will pay $1000 more than a boat is 'worth' that the current model exists. I wish someone would step up in the market and make an affordable boat. The V7 comes close, but I mean a composite ski.

its night time here. at least I can dream of that reality....:)

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"
The following user(s) said Thank You: SurfskiEstonia

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32224 by zachhandler
I think the better question is "why are skis so cheap in SA". skis are expensive everywhere else. For example, a carbonology hybrid ski, in US dollars costs

1250 in SA
2200 in NZ
2650 in Spain
2900 in Australia
3000 in USA
3250 in Norway

Current Skis: Kai Wa’a Vega, Nelo 550L g2, Carbonology Feather, Think Jet, Knysna Sonic X

Former Skis: Epic V12 g2, Epic V12 g1, Epic v10 double, Fenn Elite S, Custom Kayaks Synergy

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32225 by Wingnut
From my experience traveling to third world countries and seeing products I purchase here in the states for much lower prices I've come to believe price is set according to what people are willing to pay. I'm sure there are many other factors but I think this is at least part of it.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32226 by Jef58
All points mentioned are good ones. In general, compared to other activities in the U.S., a surfski is not really expensive to own. You buy the ski, a decent paddle and safety gear and your good to go. With a little care the ski and equipment will last a long time. Compared to golf or power sports, the cost of a good day on the ski is next to nothing.

The point about cycling, the 4k would be for the bare bike frame alone and the ones Team Sky are on run in the 12k range if you spec'd it out in a retail bike shop. I'm a long time cyclist and have spent way more on cycling, but like surfski, it is a cheap sport to do once the initial up front cost are gone. I look at long term value of my enjoyment and both of my chosen activities are good long term investments...

That said, I do tend to buy used ski's and look for good cycling related deals so there are ways to be a little frugal. I definitely would not complain if I could get a Huki at S.A. prices.
The following user(s) said Thank You: mckengmsurfski

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32227 by MCImes

zachhandler wrote: I think the better question is "why are skis so cheap in SA". skis are expensive everywhere else. For example, a carbonology hybrid ski, in US dollars costs

1250 in SA
2200 in NZ
2650 in Spain
2900 in Australia
3000 in USA
3250 in Norway


Interesting point Zach. Why are skis so cheap in SA? $1200 is really cheap!

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32228 by mckengmsurfski
Dicko wrote: "Skis are expensive because some poor bugger is prepared to do all the hard yards, risk his money up front, risk the damage, the repairs, the hassle, the problems associated with import duties, fluctuations in the markets, the fact that he can import a ski and someone else designs a new flavour of the month and the 40 skis you've just spent $40k on are now redundant, or someone has just got on surfski info and bagged them or complained about the build quality, etc, etc. and whoever is prepared to do that has decided that he wants to double his money or it's not worth the effort.
If you want a cheap ski, put in the effort and you'll be rewarded.
I've had mates try to buy single skis (Zeppelins) from SA simply because they couldn't get them in Australia, and eventually gave up because it was just too hard."

100% correct. We've been importing skis for 7 years with 3 different manufacturers. It is a labor of love, not of huge profits, which is why I continue to work 14 hour overnights at my real career! I know most of the other importers in the USA, and nearly all of us have primary careers and import surfskis on the side. We all do it b/c we are dedicated the promotion of the sport here in the US despite the small margins and risk involved. There's a lot more I could say about this, but it is probably a conversation best had over coffee or an easy paddle rather than online.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago - 3 years 11 months ago #32229 by Impala

mckengmsurfski wrote: I know most of the other importers in the USA, and nearly all of us have primary careers and import surfskis on the side.


The fact that you know so many traders is part of the explanation. The US is a vast territory, so your domestic distribution costs are just very high - you need numerous hobby traders to distribute a comparatively small number of boats.

Arjan Bloem in NL is the biggest trader in Europe. See his surfski portfolio here:
www.kajak.nl/cat.php?id=26

Epic, Think, Nelo, Stellar. No way to push this guy around for selling competing brands, because he is just too big. Surfski is just but one of his kayak categories. Arjan's prices are always about 10% below competing traders in Germany. He is the place to go for buyers from BeNeLux, Germany, France, UK and Denmark. Relatively small distances allow for big, efficient traders.
Last edit: 3 years 11 months ago by Impala.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago - 3 years 11 months ago #32236 by Fath2o
MCImes asked why Fenn skis are so cheap in SA. Well, I've got my negative opinions that are probably best not displayed here. Love the designs and performance though!
I think another obvious reason skis are so expensive in many areas is that there is no real demand.
Spent the day at the beach in the harbor this weekend and did not see one surfski. Hundreds of SUPs. Dozens of SOTs, outrigger canoes, boogie boards, jet skis, etc. and even a few traditional paddle boards. Just about anybody can paddle and SUP. They are incredibly popular.
Most people are almost instantly turned off by a tippy kayak.
One reason Hukis are so expensive is that each one is made to order to very high quality standards. I talked wtih Jude about a new Huki once. It was interesting. He was unwilling to make me an ultralight boat due to the type of, and conditions I paddle in. He would only make me a reinforced boat at just under 30 Lbs. Around $5k USD. He definitely stands behind his products.
As far as watercraft choices, who can compete with this:


www.costco.com/Wavestorm-9'-6%22-Stand-U...oduct.100391669.html
Last edit: 3 years 11 months ago by Fath2o.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32243 by Wingnut
Just thought I'd do a shout out to all the surfski dealers here in the US- at least the ones I know personally. I'd never have my surfski without your help. The first ski I ever encountered was in a Seattle area kayak shop, I had no idea what it was or why I would even want one since I was into sea kayaking. Fast forward to when I was looking for a lighter kayak and re-discovered the surfski. My local dealer invited me to test paddle some boats, another one arranged for me to test paddle a boat in my area, and a third drove quite a long distance to meet me and sell me the boat I determined I wanted (his inventory matched what I was looking for). So, I realize that there is a cost to selling a surfski in time and effort and customer inquiries along with shipping, delivery, sitting on unused inventory, etc. At least in my area our local dealer is the glue that holds surfski community together. So, while I do believe it would be much nicer to pay less I think our dealers do add tremendous value. I also love the fact that if I need something I can do a quick message asking for this or that and I have it within two days.

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

More
3 years 11 months ago #32250 by MCImes
Interesting discussion so far.

For clarity, I am by no mean implying the local dealers are overcharging. I am quite sure no one has gotten rich selling any sort of niche paddlecraft. I googled my local fenn dealer and its just a guys house with 20 boats on a rack on the side of the garage - definitely a side business / labor of love as many of you say.

I guess I think the ski market is missing a 'Hyundai'. We have plenty of Mercedes in the ski market, but not everyone needs a Benz. A workhorse composite ski only focused on being cheap and functional would be cool to see. I think a company could reduce a lot of cost by making only 2 skis, something like a 21-22" and 18-19" beam, in 2 layups (35lb and 27lb) and serve 80% of the overall market. Logic being; almost anyone except the least balanced can paddle a 21" boat so you get the beginner crowd - and you still have an intermediate boat to step up to. If you want to get skinnier than that, the market size drops off quickly, so why waste inventory, labor, marketing on such a small segment. Also, if you could establish a strong dealer network (maybe one that is subsidized by the factory, or de-facto subsidized by offering a low low cost boat with still decent retail so that the dealer could reap a healthy margin while maintaining a low price point) I think that would go a long way to expanding the sport.

Why are 9' rec kayaks and SUPs popular? I think a lot has to do with the fact you can but them for $300 and have a paddle and pfd for <$500usd out the door. I know a ski would never be that cheap, but the cost of entry is the primary barrier to expansion of the sport the way I see it, so anything that can be done to reduce the cost is good for the sport.

Currently paddling a Kai Wa'a Vega Flex in Southern California's ocean waters
Past Boats: Epic V10g1, Stellar SRg1, Fenn XTg1, Swordfish S
"When you've done something right, they wont know you've done anything at all"

Please Log in or Create an account to join the conversation.

Latest Forum Topics

Protected by R Antispam