Wednesday, May 22, 2013
PORTLAND -- After a 10-year hiatus from snowboarding, Nick Bosse decided he'd pick up the sport again this winter. At Saturday's Down East Ski Sale, he bought everything he needed to do that -- and then some.
Dan Field of Bangor stopped by the sale to look at skis on his way home from a trip to Boston.
Photos by John Ewing/Staff Photographer
Jack Reagan, 4, of Falmouth checks out the ski selection while wearing a newly acquired ski helmet.
"I needed a winter hobby," said Bosse, 27, of Waterville. "I was able to get everything I needed for the price of a board at a retail store."
Along with his snowboard and boots, Bosse and his fiancee, Trish Snyder, bought skis, snowshoes, helmets, gloves and goggles.
Some 10,000 pieces of discounted equipment and clothing were displayed for sale in the Portland Exposition Building on Park Avenue on Saturday morning. For the past 50 years, the Down East Ski Club has put on the consignment sale on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
"You get a lot of people you see once a year. It's a little ski reunion," said Doug Dolan, who has been the floor manager for the sale since it moved to the Expo six years ago.
For the prior 20 years, the sale was held at the University of Southern Maine's Sullivan Gymnasium. It started in a building off Forest Avenue that was owned by A.R. Wright fuel company and no longer exists, said Dick Doucette, a member of ski club since 1958.
Then it moved to the South Portland Armory, then the Westbrook Armory.
"Every place, we outgrew," he said.
On average, nearly 2,500 people have attended the sale in recent years. The scene, however, isn't as hectic as it used to be, when there were fewer options for buying discount ski gear.
Doucette said hundreds of people used to line up hours before the sale started.
"It was like Black Friday," he said.
Initially, the sale was an opportunity for families to swap outgrown equipment for something new.
"You made a couple dollars; you spent a couple more. It was a wash," said Gail Wood, who has been going to the sale for more than 30 years.
She used to shop for her kids' ski equipment there. On Saturday, she was mostly browsing.
"It's still a fun event," she said.
Wood said people used to pay an entry fee to sell their clothes and equipment at the event. That's how the ski club raised money for its activities. Now, the club takes a cut of the take from the items, which include unsold inventory from ski shops, as well as used equipment from individuals and families.
The Down East Ski Club was founded in 1948 by World War II veterans who would carpool to ski in Bridgton at Pleasant Mountain, now known as Shawnee Peak. That's where the club, which now has 90 members, owns a lodge that sleeps 30. Members stay there for just a few dollars a night, which is one way the club fulfills its mission to make skiing accessible and affordable to anyone in Maine.
In addition to paying for club activities, some profits from the sale are donated to related causes, including the ski patrol and the Ski Museum of Maine. The club holds a spaghetti dinner once a year for the employees of Shawnee Peak. It also gives out two $1,000 scholarships to members of the Lake Region High School ski team.
"A lot of the money we raise we give back to the skiing community," Dolan said.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at
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The 50th annual Down East Ski Sale, held at the Portland Expo on Saturday, featured about 10,000 items, including skis, boots, poles, bindings, goggles and accessories.