Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Orikaso foldable kitchenware, Nordic walking training, Cops on Top finds support from The North Face, Spyder and Section part ways, average price for footwear rises, Clif Bar's Erickson grabs honor, and much, much more...
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For the week of Jan. 4-10

>> Axis Outdoor has signed on as the exclusive North American distributor of Orikaso kitchenware -- foldable plastic cups, bowls and dishes. Orikaso is the creation of Jay Cousins who coined the term Orikaso -- Ori means fold in Japanese and Kaso means plastic. It incorporates the art of origami and applies it to modern materials and design. Using food-grade polypropylene, Orikaso products travel and store flat and are easily folded into their unique shapes for outdoor activities. Orikaso has been available in the U.K., Europe and Japan for a few years and was a finalist in the ISPO BrandNew. Axis Outdoor is launching Orikaso at the SIA and Outdoor Retailer shows this month with plans to begin shipping in March. SNEWS® first noted that Orikaso would be a natural for the U.S. market following our Friedrichshafen OutDoor show coverage last July -- www.flatworld.co.uk.

>> The Nordic walking train in the United States is picking up steam. Pole company Leki has hired a sport scientist with background in exercise design and coaching to work with them to hone the company's instruction and work with retailers and others interested in the exercise trend. (See our story in the 2004 GearTrends® summer fitness magazine for more. If you missed that issue, go to www.Geartrends.com and click on magazines for a free download.) Gene Elizabeth Verel will be working closely with Leki to fine-tune its instructional programs and focus on body mechanics and certification issues. In other Nordic walking news, yet another association has been founded in Germany called the Nordic Walking Union (NWU). Founding members include instructors as well as those involved with sports marketing, retail, and travel and tourism. Founding retail member Bernd Neuhardt of Zweibruecken said the group will add a travel and tourism focus to its agenda to help broaden the concept further. The group expects to become an information clearinghouse for consumers and said it expects to have as many as 50,000 members in two years.

>> VF Corp.'s The North Face and Horace Small brands are teaming up with Cops on Top, a non-profit organization that honors the lives and sacrifices of officers killed in the line of duty while protecting and serving their communities. Annual mountaineering expeditions honor fallen officers and educate the public on the dangers, stress and life-altering effects faced by thousands of officers. TNF and Horace Small, makers of law enforcement and public safety uniforms, will be sponsoring the 2005 expeditions to Mount Kilimanjaro, Denali and Mount Elbrus. The Kilimanjaro expedition is in memory of Officer Isaac Espinoza of the San Francisco Police Department, who was killed in the line of duty in April 2004 and left behind a wife and three-year-old daughter. A group of 13 Cops on Top team members departed Jan. 9 and the expedition is expected to conclude within a week-and-a-half. Through the donation of equipment and monetary support, Horace Small and TNF are able to help Cops on Top stage these memorial expeditions which are largely self-funded by law enforcement officer volunteer climbers. For more information, visit www.copsontop.com.

>> Big Agnes is heading north, eh, to Canada and will start selling its products in March at Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC). "We are thrilled to introduce our products to Canada. The Mountain Equipment Co-op is the perfect venue for Big Agnes to meet Canadian consumers," said Bill Gamber, co-founder and president of Big Agnes. Also, Jimmy and Jenny Peshek of Summit Sports North will represent Big Agnes in North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They also handle Granite Gear, Snow Peak, 180s and ACR electronics.

>> Spyder Active Sports and Section snowboard apparel have parted ways as of Jan. 1, 2005. The relationship between Spyder and Section's Trent and Troy Bush began in 2002, with Spyder supporting the core snowboarding brand created by the brothers. The Bushes handled the brand's sales, marketing and product, with Spyder’s back-end support given in IT, accounting and operations departments. Spyder and the Bushes have concluded an agreement enabling the brothers to purchase the Section segment of the business, allowing them to form a new company under their ownership going forward into the 2005-2006 season. Spyder said in a statement that its skiwear business has grown 40 percent in the last year and hasn't allowed the company to give Section the attention it needs.

>> The average price point for all footwear rose 1.1 percent in 2004 with advances in average prices outnumbering declines two to one for the 22 categories of athletic and sports footwear surveyed by NSGA. The average price rose to $39.32 in 2004 from $38.88 in 2003. "The 1.1 percent increase in 2004 followed downturns in the three previous years, 0.3 percent, 3.0 percent and 0.4 percent, respectively," said Thomas Doyle, NSGA vice president of information and research. "However, the year's overall average did not reach the 2000 average price of $40.32, the highest in the history of the NSGA survey. The weaker promotional environment and exciting new products probably accounts for the growth." In spite of a 1.5 percent decline in their average price, hunting boots held the No. 1 position as the most expensive shoe in the 2004 sports footwear market -- $63.87 on average. The average price for 2004 and the percent change from 2003 for outdoor-related shoe categories are: hiking, $47.83 (6.3 percent); sport sandals, $23.44 (+1.6 percent); walking, $42.02 (+1.0 percent); and water sport, $14.15 (-0.7 percent). The information on average shoe prices will be included in the NSGA's May report "The Sporting Goods Market in 2005," prepared for NSGA by Irwin Broh & Associates. Cost of the report to NSGA members is $225, to non-members, $325. For additional information, visit www.nsga.org.

>> Among a list of 25 compiled by Hooked on the Outdoors magazine's readers, Clif Bar's Gary Erickson has been named Hooked's Outdoor Person of the Year. Criteria for the annual Hooked on the Outdoors award include "someone who lives and breathes the outdoors, has accomplished a significant outdoor achievement and has given back to the outdoor community," Nancy Coulter-Parker, Hooked's editor-in-chief, said. "We also look for someone who has remained selfless in the pursuit of a love for the outdoors. People felt Gary Erickson was an excellent choice because he really personifies what this award is all about." The outdoor enthusiast-turned-entrepreneur is a former wilderness guide and bike racer who founded Clif Bar Inc. in 1992, building the business into a multi-million-dollar company. Erickson is perhaps best known for walking away from a $120 million corporate buyout in 2000 as part of staying true to the company's guiding principles.

>> Garmin International unveiled the Forerunner 301 at the 2005 International Consumer Electronics Show and walked away with the 2005 Innovations Showcase Design & Engineering Award in the personal electronics category. The Forerunner 301 picks up where the Forerunner 201 left off, adding a digitally coded heart-rate monitor and several other features to create an integrated personal training system that provides the user with speed, distance, pace and heart-rate data during a particular workout. It also includes the all-new Garmin Training Center, a PC-based software application for enhanced planning and performance analysis. Garmin said the Forerunner 301 is the first fitness device to optimize cross training by providing personal customization that allows the user to create advanced workouts and segment data for deeper analysis of multiple sports like running, cycling, kayaking and cross-country skiing.

>> The New Year wouldn't be complete without its "best of" lists and Trails.com is joining the fray with its annual list of Top Trails for 2004. Among the top five are Breakneck Ridge Trail, Mount Whitney, Laurel Highland Hiking Trail, Half Dome and Dolly Sods Wilderness. The Top Trails of 2004 were selected based on the analysis of more than 10 million "votes" via subscribers and visitors to the Trails.com website. To check out the complete list with details, check out www.trails.com/toptrails.

>> Cabela's is in negotiations to build an 185,000-square-foot destination/entertainment outdoor gear store in Rogers, Minn. If the deal goes through, the superstore, which would be the largest outdoor sports store in the state, would open late this fall or early in the spring of 2006. The store would be built on 40 acres of a 55-acre site about 10 miles northwest of Minneapolis and be Cabela's third store in Minnesota, employing 350 to 400 people.

>> Columbia Sportswear has named Greg Goddard to the newly created position of international market development manager, overseeing the company's network of independent distributors in Russia, Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey and Greece. He will work to further optimize existing relationships in sales, business and retail development and will distributor performance along with establishing new distribution channels. Goddard will be based in Columbia Sportswear's European headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Prior to joining Columbia, he held senior management and operations positions with the Asian Pacific office of The Timberland Company.

>> The Access Fund has hired Robb Shurr as the new director of marketing and business development, concentrating on outreach and facilitating the association's corporate, community and business partnerships. Shurr has held marketing and sales positions within the outdoor industry, including Ojai, and helped create the boulderProject youth initiative. Shurr can be contacted at robb@accessfund.org for marketing needs, corporate and community partnerships, or to set up an appointment for Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

>> Tubbs Snowshoes has hired BRM Representatives to handle sales in the upper Midwest. Bruce Marsh is the principal sales manager for BRM Representatives, which has been incorporated since 1978. BRM replaces Bing Associates, another rep group of Tubbs that has recently signed an exclusive agreement with Merrell.

>> Phil Schmitt is moving up at Osprey Packs from customer service manager to associate sales manager. Schmitt has been with Osprey for over three years and is a former buyer with River Sports Outfitters.

>> Helly Hansen U.S. has named Russ Rowan as national sales director, where he will manage and expand the company's sales force, enhance the brand's dealer relation programs and facilitate new merchandising initiatives with Helly's U.S. marketing team. Rowan replaces former Helly Hansen vice president of sales Mike Terreri who is now heading the company's new water sports, trail and casual footwear division launched in 2004. Rowan is a 15-year wintersports, outdoor and cycling industry sales veteran, working for O'Neill and Burton. He'll be based in Morrisville, Vt.

>> NRS will be distributing Head Trip Helmets, made by Advanced Carbon Composites. ACC has experience in aerospace and automotive composites manufacturing, and four helmet designs will be available for whitewater boating. "Our industry has been waiting for a helmet like this for a long time. It's encouraging to see a composites manufacturer produce watersports helmets using technology from other industries. Their quality of workmanship and dedication to safety are unmatched," said Todd Benson of NRS. Spec info is available at www.kayakinghelmets.com.

>> NRI Distribution is moving into a 62,000-square-foot building at 450 Export Boulevard, Mississauga in Ontario. The company serves the fulfillment needs of the sports and fashion industries. For more information, contact 250/573-6917, fax 250/573-6900 or info@nri-distribution.com.

>> Apogée Skiwear, the Canadian skiwear company, has established a U.S. sales team. Representing the New England territory will be Jac Quin. Randy Dodig will handle New York state and Pennsylvania, and Rich Fredericks will cover the Mid-Atlantic. The Rocky Mountain region will be managed by Barry Levinson. Apogée is continuing to develop a national sales force and will be introducing the collection at the SIA trade show. Reps interested in the remaining territories are invited to stop by. For more information, contact Apogée USA at: apogeeusa@mac.com or 970-376-0808. www.apogeeskiwear.com

>> With triple-digit growth in 2004, Sea to Summit has moved its corporate headquarters from Las Vegas to Boulder, Colo., for more warehouse space and a better job pool. Sea to Summit's new contact information is 4820 Sterling Dr., Boulder, CO 80301; 303-440-8977; fax: 303-440-8995.

>> Eider has appointed Barry Galvin, David Russell, E.J. Rearden and Philippe Muller to its U.S. sales team. Galvin will handle the northwest region, and Rearden will cover the Mid-Atlantic. Russell has been reassigned to New England after working for two seasons in the New York Metro area on behalf of Eider. Muller is currently handles the Rocky Mountain range and is now the newly appointed western sales manager for the company.

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