TAHOE CITY, Calif. — Fifty years ago, a few families looking for a fundraising idea for their children’s preschool organized a small event to exchange used ski gear.
Little did they know that from this humble beginning, this small garage sale would evolve into a large-scale retail operation — one that has become an iconic Tahoe event and has heralded the start of every ski season in the five decades since.
Through the years, the sale found more spacious digs including the Alpine Meadows lodge, the North Tahoe Conference Center and the North Tahoe High school gymnasium.
Now under the auspices of North Tahoe’s public high school and middle school, the swap will again be held at North Tahoe High School, 2945 Polaris Road, Tahoe City, put on by and benefiting the students.
It will be open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26.
“The North Tahoe Ski and Sports Swap is one of the oldest, largest and best swaps in the West,” said Dee Dee Driller, the event organizer.
Driller, who is also a trustee for the Tahoe Truckee Unified School, explained that students are involved in most all aspects of the event, from organizing, promoting and working the long hours during the event weekend.
A true community event, the swap relies on plenty of local support in addition to the student help it receives. Members of the public provide equipment and apparel as well as volunteer hours to staff the event.
To augment the public offerings of used gear and clothing, retail partners bring new and demo equipment and goods. All together, literally thousands of items are offered for sale at bargain prices.
Last year, in addition to the dizzying array of snow sports equipment and clothing, the event began to offer more than just winter sporting goods, and this year will continue with the new tradition. All types of sporting and outdoor equipment and clothing will be accepted, including water sports, hiking, biking and more.
Another twist to the event: a prize for the member of the public who sells the most items.
“We started this last year, to encourage more public participation,” said Driller. “This prize is only for non-merchant members of the public who are not manufacturers reps, so be sure to bring in all your clothing and gear. You might win a prize.”
Eagerly awaited each year by Sierra skiers and snowboarders, the annual ski swap has filled a social niche over the years as well. As the leaves turn and temperatures drop, locals tend to turn their thoughts to the upcoming ski season.
“What better place to get pumped up for ski season than the annual ski swap?” Driller said. “For 50 years, this event has been a gathering place where people talk about what’s new at the resorts, what the Farmer’s Almanac is predicting for snowfall, and how much of the latest equipment they’ll be adding to their quiver.”
People should take your to North Tahoe High School between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25. People can pick up their money for items sold, or their unsold items, on Sunday, Oct. 27, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Items left after 1 p.m. are considered donations.
Admission is $1. Students will sell raffle tickets for a cash prize as well as additional goodies, including dining gift certificates, equipment, and much more.
Volunteer positions are available on Friday, Saturday and Sunday; volunteers get to pre-shop at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26, before the swap opens. To volunteer, call 530-581-7050, extension 4344, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For information, see the swap’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NorthTahoeSkiSportSwap.