10 Tips for Navigating the Whistler Blackcomb Turkey Sale

I’ve been aware of the Legend of the Turkey Sale for quite some time, and have never around over Thanksgiving weekend to make the most of it. This year, I took the plunge and headed up to find a new….everything. I came away with a new snowboard, bindings, boots, jacket and pants, though not without learning a few lessons on the way. The first one being that although the sale is advertised as up to 70% off everything, the ‘up to’ is the key phrase. I had no idea what to expect in terms of prices and savings, so have listed the details of my haul below to help you prepare:

I’m so excited with my sale success, especially as I had some reservations before going. Will I really save money? Am I prepared enough? Can I actually make a quick decision? Below are my top 10 Tips for navigating the Whistler Blackcomb Turkey Sale.

1. Go early!

This was perhaps the best advice I received in advance of the sale. If you can’t make it up (or aren’t eligible) for Local’s Day on the Friday afternoon, you’ll be aiming for Saturday morning. The sale opens at 9am so I left Vancouver at 7am to get there for the opening. In the end I arrived at 9:15am, and walked straight in. It was already busy, but by the time I left at 11:30am the line was at least an hour long. And it was a very cold day to be standing outside! Apparently they do add new gear on the Sunday too, though same goes for the early arrival.

2. Head straight for the boards/skis

If you’re on the lookout for a new snowboard or pair of skis, go there first. These will be the first things to sell out, especially if you’re looking for a specific or popular model/height. I went to the snowboards first and was immediately overwhelmed by the rows of boards (mostly Burton, though some Forum and a few DC), most without any kind of label to let me know what type of board each one was. I grabbed four in my size and flagged down a staff person to help me choose between them. The finding/selecting process took about 30 minutes in total, and the number of boards was rapidly decreasing during that time.

My new (bright) jacket and pants!

My new (bright) jacket and pants!

3. Scope the sale before committing!

I was very impressed with myself when I found a Burton jacket I’d admired on the website and picked out two pairs of pants to try with it. This is where I fell down. I’m an awful decision maker under pressure, and I spent an hour trying on these two pairs of pants and parading up and down the (really, really busy by now) floors staring at myself in the open mirrors. I eventually picked one pair, only to spot another on my way to the exit. I tried them on and loved them immediately. What a waste that past hour was! Even though I advise you to head straight for the hard equipment, keep your eyes open on the way there so you don’t miss anything on the way back!

4. Do your research…

I know I was woefully underprepared going into the sale, and I spent the drive up to Whistler scouring the Burton website. This helped, to a certain extent, but I was still a little lost when faced with all of the options. Saying that, there weren’t as many brands of hard equipment as I thought there would be, and having a limited number of products to choose between really helped. When it came to bindings there were only a handful of women’s models in my size (and they were all Burton) so I just went for the best quality one I could afford. Done!

5. …and ask for help!

Even if you’ve done your research, you may still have questions when you get there. There were staff members in bright green t-shirts available to help, though nowhere near enough to serve the masses! After loitering quietly in the back for half an hour hoping someone would offer to help me, I soon learned to be more assertive and stalk the staff until they were free to help. They were all really helpful with great knowledge about all of the options available, so use them when you can!

Posing on the Sea To Sky highway on the way home

Posing on the Sea To Sky highway on the way home

6. Set a budget

The Turkey Sale is renowned for heavily discounted prices, but it’s amazing how quickly everything adds up. Setting a total or itemised budget can help you make quick decisions between products when time is of the essence. Saying that, I did go over my rough budget, and most of that was on my board. I ended up getting a better model than I’d hoped, with a discount that was a little less than I planned. I had no idea what to expect or how realistic my budget was, so was prepared to go a little over to get everything I needed. I’m also incredibly bad at standing up to the pressure of the sale environment, and am known for overspending on almost every area of my life. Either way, a budget will help your search!

7. Wear layers

It was so cold at the base of Blackcomb Mountain, and my body was shocked back into remembering what 5 degrees feels like after such a long summer. After an hour inside the sale, I was roasting and stripping off as many layers as I could carry. Of course, when I emerged into the sunlight as a flustered, sweaty mess, it wasn’t long before I was shivering again. Layers, layers, layers!

8. Bring a friend!

Whether you’re a slow decision maker, have a lot to carry, or just need some moral support, bringing someone with you can make a huge difference to your Turkey Sale experience. I learned this the hard way, after sending my significant other off to a coffee shop to catch up on some work. I quickly learned that the only thing worse than him having to follow me round a crowded tent for two and a half hours was me having to struggle through by myself. Everything was going great until I left the snowboard area and attempted to look for a jacket and pants whilst carrying a board, boots and bindings. Luckily, the staff took pity on me and let me stash my goods behind the changing rooms. This did not help my indecisiveness (see #3) and I really could have done with someone to tell me which pair looked better. Or to scout for pants in the exact colour that I was looking for (which I later found less than 20m away). When I finally made it to the exit I still had to drag everything to the car. Needless to say, my arm muscles are still aching as I write this. Bring. A. Friend.

Whistler Olympic Plaza

Whistler Olympic Plaza

9. Look outside the main sale

Turkey Sale fever must be catching…all of the stores in the Village had sales over the weekend! I managed to find a discounted rash guard for my upcoming Hawaii vacation less than an hour after buying all of my winter gear. Only on the West Coast!

10. Make the most of Whistler…or don’t!

I haven’t been to Whistler for more than just a day in a really long time, so wanted to make the most of the trip and spend the night there. The hotel we picked was great, and we enjoyed a really nice lunch, dinner and morning stroll the next day before heading home again. When I add up the cost of the Zipcar, hotel, parking, lunch, dinner, drinks and copious coffees, the money I saved on my sale purchases starts to rapidly dwindle. I prefer to look at this as that the money saved on my gear paid for a great weekend in Whistler. However, if the bottom line savings are more important make sure you plan ahead to take advantage of the cheaper advance Greyhound tickets. Don’t forget to pack your blinkers so you can make it to the bus home without any distractions!

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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

4 responses to “10 Tips for Navigating the Whistler Blackcomb Turkey Sale”

  1. inkybus says :

    Glad to see you commuting to winter!

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