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With the price of a new pair of skis at $400 and up, the thrifty skier will explore options. There are sites online specifically advertising cheap or used skis; used skis can also be found on general sites like Ebay.
If you are new to the sport, first shop the local ski store, and find the brand and size that most fits your needs. Finding more than one acceptable brand will give you more flexibility in your search for cheap skis. Once you are armed with the specific brand and size, you can begin to search the many sites online. Searching for "cheap skis" or "used skis" will lead you to many discount and used ski outlets. Read all descriptions very carefully, and be sure to review the return policy, in case the product is not what you expected.
For those who prefer a more "hands-on" approach, there are used sporting equipment stores in many cities; just check your local yellow pages. You can also try the classified sections of your local newspaper or Penny Saver; you never know if someone happens to be selling exactly what you need. Be sure to physically examine all equipment; any flaws can be used to negotiate a lower price. Don't hold out for a different color; the most important features are brand and size.