This time of year, ski shops try to unload last year's gear. For as long as I can remember, there have always been big ski and snowboard sales over the Labor Day weekend.
While shops won't have all their 2010-11 gear yet, they will have some. If you're in the market for new equipment, this is a good time to check out the latest and greatest, and save some money at the same time.
I've attached a link to a site that I think is pretty good at explaining snowboards. If you don't know what you want, read this before you go. That said, most snowboard shops have pretty skilled staff and they will generally steer you towards the right equipment. If the "dude" is too cool to listen to how you ride, find a different "dude" in the shop to help you.
I read a great article by Mike Porter about ski design. I'll try to find it (and get permission) to publish it.