An Update from the Avalanche Center
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This is a brief but important update for the auction! Updates and changes to the website will be summarized in a future update after the auction ends.
Eighth Annual Fundraising Auction - Through December 16 (Friday)
The auction page is: http://www.avalanche-center.org/auction/
Items that you can bid on in the auction vary in value from under $10 to $100. They include:
Be sure to visit the auction and check it out for yourself!
The auction is underway and ends this Friday (Dec 16). More items were posted today and everything available should now be ready for bidding. Some special bargains may end sooner and only be offered for a short time. Participation during the first week was very discouraging, but that usually seems to be the case. Many people seem to wait until closer to the end to even have a look. I'm counting on things picking up substantially this week. A summary of items we have is included below.
Your participation is important. In addition to bidding you can also support the auction by helping us to promote it. Mention it on forums you are active on and email lists you are part of. Tell your friends. And print out the flyer/press release using the link on the main auction page and post it locally. Unfortunately there is little evidence (from our logs or anywhere else) that many people have done anything to help promote the auction either, which is something that would be helpful earlier rather than later.
Over the past few years more resources have required a contribution. Use of the email advisory lists was first, access to incident reports followed. In order to either search and sort incidents or to actually read the report files it is necessary to contribute. Other benefits have also been added, including ongoing store discounting and ad-free visits. This trend is the result of declining support and participation. Your winning bid in the auction, for any item and for any amount, counts as a contribution and allows you to access all these extra benefits and features for the next year. In a more general sense your participation helps show support for the project and bring in some funding to cover the overhead operational costs, and this allows me to offer the things I do to the general public for free. Without support I can't do that. Providing the time is becoming harder, and I simply cannot personally fund it as well.
During the auction most of the main section pages, and the home page, on the website have been replaced with a message promoting the auction. If you are a contributor you can log in and use the site as usual, and without any advertising shown. If you're not and it's frustrating not to be able to find something you're looking for then remember that its only possible during the rest of the year because of donations, store sales and the auction. (The store and the Education section remain available in their usual forms. However, our new online course system is not publicly linked in the Education section and can be accessed only by contributors, even following the auction.) The site will return to normal within a few days of the auction ending, unless items are left over with no bids. In that case we will post them on ebay and the site will promote those auction items until everything is gone.
Check out the auction page: http://www.avalanche-center.org/auction/
Avalanche Store Matching Discount Policy
Another way to support our efforts and resources is to purchase your avalanche safety gear through our Avalanche Store (http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/)
We now have a page of discount prices (http://www.avalanche-center.org/store/discounts.html) matching the best deals known to us. There is a link to the discounts page on the main store page. Right now we have sale prices on the Barryvox and the PIEPS DSP. At one point we sold a couple Barryvox for $199 to match REI. We were glad to see them end that deal since we really don't benefit at that price. However, benefit or not we will match any web-posted price. We'd rather have you buy it from us than somebody like REI.
If you see a price better than what we have posted email us and let us know. If it qualifies as a price to be posted on our discount page we will give you a free t-shirt with your order at the discount price you inform us of. Even if it doesn't qualify to be posted we may be willing to make a deal with you to get your sale. Right now we have no official posted prices to match the "buy a beacon get a free shovel" deals, but we will bargain with you to match them. Email us if you want to make a deal. For beacons with current posted discount prices (currently Barryvox and PIEPS) the free shovel deal won't be the biggest discount. But for items like the Tracker for which there are no current discount prices you can get your best deal by bargaining against the "free shovel" discounting.
We do not provide free shipping. However, for all orders over $100 (in final cart value, regardless of whether there are sale items or discounts or whatever) the customer receives contributor status for one year on the site, and all the extra material that can be accessed with that. Remember that purchasing from us supports these materials and resources. All proceeds go into this, the store makes no profits for any individuals and pays only a student worker hourly for handling orders.
And by the way, our shirts are all on a close-out sale right now. We want to move them and buy a new batch. See the Store Sale page.
Store sales also continue to be disappointing, despite a match-all-discounts policy. It's not clear what we need to do to get people to buy from us and support avalanche safety rather than purchasing from a for-profit business. All purchases over $100 from us count as a contribution and allow you to access all the benefits that go with that for the next year. If you buy your gear someplace else don't complain to us about having to make a contribution to use much of the site.
Final Note and a Couple Tips
For those of you who have read this far here are two tips for the auction and the store:
1: During the auction we have often put up items from our store, especially beacons, for bidding. We often auction off "your choice of beacon" starting at $200 and only run it for a day or two, so these go for very low prices. Keep watching the auction for these deals. (That's the purpose - to get people to watch the auction. We hope you'll bid on other things while you're there, but it isn't required.) So far there has been little activity, and little indication that special deals would help. Therefore we have not posted too many items other than shirts and nalgene bottles. If people are coming to the auction and bidding on things we will run specials to provide them with an incentive to keep checking back more often.
2- Contributors who shop while they are logged in get a blanket across-the-board discount on their shopping cart total, excluding sale items. This varies, it will say on the login welcome page and the cart. It can be anywhere from 10-30%. You can also join an email list which we sometimes use to announce changes in this discount (if I remember to). Right now the discount is still quite high, but that could change at any time. Don't email and ask about it - you need to be a contributor. If you are then log in and check. And subscribe to the store-notices list.
Thanks a lot for bidding in the Auction and purchasing you gear from the Avalanche Store !