One major flaw with what you think is the role of a shop in the kiting community. How are shops suppose to support the community kiting without retail and customers? Seriously are we your public servants living on donations working out the goodness of our hearts? Get real... Its a business and a poor one at that. All the shops in my area including myself spend a serious amount of time and money on preserving and bettering our kiting community because we believe in it. But without customers and a strong local support these efforts would not be possible.TooMuchEpoxy:This, I feel is the role of shops for the kiting community, to mitigate the problems caused by inexperienced kiters and to represent the interests of these kiters to political entities which could instate a ban. (Keep the unskilled in line, fight the ban when they do step out of line) - In this case it is our responsibility to enforce this on out beaches, educate new kiters by sending them to qualified instructors.
Kite shops really do kind of get the shaft from all ends: government, manufacturers, customers yet I do it because I love the sport. No one around here is rich from it, hell I work a second full time job just to stay in business. But without shop support we wouldnt have the great kiting access we have now in the gorge plain and simple.
The Demo gear we provide people to try out doesnt come free, we have to buy that demo gear from the manufacturer and hope it turns into sales and that the demo gear can be sold at end of season when no one is buying. No matter how much I love the sport and want to help its continued safe growth, it is still a business that has to make money to survive or there wont be shops there to provide demo gear, parties, sponsor events and organizations, fight the government ect... Online is a huge part of the business for me, but even with online sales most of those sales are from the local kiting community and I appreciate there support.
2011 Epic renegade, 2011 Epic screamer, F-one Bandit 4, Airush