I skied Gore this past weekend. I had a chance to see the paid parking in action, and I wanted to layout my thoughts. You may or may not know, I was very vocal about this plan last year. I felt that adding fees after the pass deadline wasn’t fair. A passholder, unhappy with the new setup, had no option at that point, but to accept it.
I also felt that it was bad timing. The economy was in freefall. People were afraid that their jobs, and their way of life, were in jeopardy.
Finally, the way the pricing was structured – it hit the passholders the hardest. There was no bulk discount or pass, and for a family like us…we were looking at another $300 a year.
I give Gore a lot of credit for backing off the plan last year.
This year at the pass deadline, it was pretty clear that Gold Parking was happening. We went into it with eyes wide open. As property owners, we didn’t have much choice. We weren’t about to sell our cabin.
Currently, at the mountain, it’s hard to avoid the topic. On every gondola ride I took this past weekend, people were discussing the parking.
Core Gore customers, who have been coming to the mountain for years, feel betrayed. In my opinion a rise in the pass price, or the cost of cheeseburgers, or ski school, or beer wouldn’t be met with nearly the resistance of the paid parking. Why is that?
Economically, there will always be two classes. Those who can afford to live the way they want and those who must make tough choices about every single thing they buy. My family is definitely in that second category.
I think what bothers people most is what the chains symbolize. They seem to represent a divide between those customers that have supported and skied Gore for years, and those customers Gore would like to attract. Every time you step over those chains, it feels like management is whispering in your ear … we don’t care about you any more. What to do?
This past weekend very few paid to park up front. But on a weekend when people are parked down the access road, the paid lot will fill up.
Mountain management probably knows exactly what days will max out the parking lot. Instead of having paid parking every weekend, they could limit it to those peak days. It would avoid a situation where long time, dedicated Gore customers are navigating through the chains and the empty paid lot.
I think the best idea was proposed on Gore’s Facebook page. A woman suggested Valet Parking in Lot D. I thought that was a brilliant idea. The advantages are all there:
- Revenue for the mountain
- Convenience for the people who can afford it
- No lost spaces due to barrier infrastructure
- Less expensive plowing
- No alienation of the current Gore customer base
- No visual reminder of “haves” and “have nots”
I can’t see the downside of the valet idea. I think it could work really well, and generate revenue. The cost of doing it would be almost nothing.
Valet parking could create some decent jobs. The mountain could charge for the service, and I bet that tipping would become standard. I’d give a guy a FIVE if he did a good job.
It would also sidestep logistical problems. Currently there seem to be complications with plowing. And on days when all parking is free, barriers have to be removed or worked around.
There are other issues. Do you man the toll booth until the Tannery closes? Or do you let people who stay that late park free? If so, this shifts the burder even more onto families with little children, who aren’t as likely to stay for dinner and drinks.
Let’s face the facts, this is capitalism. Anyone can sell anything they want and charge any price for it. If the product serves the market at that price, it will thrive. If not, it will die. The idea is that customers have the freedom to vote with their wallet.
Our family is in a situation where we don’t really have a choice. We have land, and ties to North Creek that are strong. We consider it our home, even though our bills are mailed to a different address. We really don’t want to ski at another mountain.
For our family, Gore is a very special place. If you are reading this, you might agree. It’s a skier’s mountain. I think it’s got the best tree skiing in NY state. But it’s more than that.
Gore has a soul that Stratton or Okemo will never have. I think of Gore more like Mad River Glen. A mountain that is what it is, because there is a dedicated core of customers and employees that just love to ski.
Gore is not about being seen, or the bar scene, or having the fanciest car. Gore is about family, and family history, and new generations of Gore skiers coming of age at the same place their parents did. It’s a great place with a great vibe. I’d do anything I could, to see that Gore continues to be that place, that we want to share with our kids.