Youth buying habits: click or brick?

Web, warehouse or store – they all have their challenges. But where do today’s youth shop for their outdoor gear? To find out, SNEWS Youth Reporter Lorin Paley consulted with college students about their shopping habits.

Web, warehouse or store – they all have their challenges. But where do today’s youth shop for their outdoor gear? To find out, we consulted with college students about their shopping habits. Turns out there’s not one answer. But face-to-face does win points: They want it, they want it now, and shipping charges are no-go. In their words:

  • “I go to Campmor.... It has a low-key feel, good prices, and the people are both helpful and insightful. I might be able to find a lower price online, but they know what they are talking about and it makes returns a lot easier.”--Karen, 22, New Brunswick, N.J. Major: Library Sciences
  • “I know that REI or local retailers have quality stuff. I don't know enough by myself to make a decision online. I might browse REI online, but I will go to the store and talk to someone before I make the purchase.” --Gillian, 20, Golden, Colo. Major: Mechanical Engineering
  • “I hate waiting for shipping to come. Plus if it doesn’t fit, I need to send it back and wait again for the right size. By the time I'm at a store to try something on, I'm not going to order it online to save a buck. I'd rather have it that day.” --Shauna, 21, Morrisville, N.Y. Major: Sciences and Management
  • “If I really needed something, I would probably go to a local store, but I’m more inclined to browse online. I like checking in and out of sites like Whiskeymilitia, Steep and Cheap and The Find. They put one item in front of you and you decide whether you need it or not. As an indecisive shopper, it helps me organize things.” --Erika, 19, Golden, CO. Major: Geological Engineering
  • “I will never buy online without trying it on. I will go to a local shop to browse and try on sizes then order online, especially for clothes. I don't shop often. So when I do, it will usually be enough to negate the shipping costs. If I buy something big, I buy it at the store for the warranty.” --Chrissy, 21, San Luis Obispo, CA. Major: Civil Engineering
  • “I know the guys at the local shop. I’ve shopped there forever, and they give locals a good deal. Even if they didn't, I would probably still shop there to talk to the guys and because of the proximity. Even for me, it's good to talk to people on retail floor. They know what stuff gets returned, what doesn't. You can't learn that stuff online.” --Adam, 20, Steamboat Springs, CO. Pro Biker

--Lorin Paley, SNEWS Youth Advisory & Reporting Team/2009 Telemark World Junior Champion

To find out more about the SNEWS Youth Team and download an application, go to To find out more about sponsorships or other participation, email

The SNEWS® Youth Team has been made possible in part by the generous support of Vibram, with additional support from Confluence Watersports:



SNEWS Youth Team: Buying motivation

Checkout this expanded magazine Web Extra on what influences youth buying decisions. It is based on our summary story on Page 9 in the SNEWS Winter 2011 issue. To download the full magazine as of February 2011, go to Everybody wants to know what more