Outdoor: Did you hear?…

September is Adopt-a-Crag month, OIF launches Getting Americans Active database, NRF says May retail sales better than anticipated, PPA ramping up for annual trade show, plus much more...
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For the week of June 14-20

>> The Access Fund is anointing September as Adopt-a-Crag month and encouraging cleanup and fund-raising events all across the country. In the five years since the inception of Adopt-a-Crag, climbers around the country have built and restored thousands of miles of trails, hauled tons of trash and completed thousands of conservation initiatives, the association said. To download an Adopt-a-Crag Manual, click here, and to register online, go to www.AccessFund.org/Adopt. If you have any questions, contact Deanne Buck, grassroots coordinator, at Deanne@accessfund.org, 303-656-6772, ext. 112.

>> To leverage outdoor industry resources to introduce more Americans to the benefits of an active lifestyle, Outdoor Industry Foundation has launched Getting Americans Active, a database of outreach programs and initiatives designed to promote increased youth participation in outdoor recreation. Getting Americans Active is a searchable online database of more than 100 national, regional and local outreach programs that OIF said would benefit from local and national partnerships with companies and individuals in the outdoor industry. The database enables users to search for organizations focusing on 40+ recreational activities from outdoor pursuits like hiking, biking, camping and kayaking to traditional activities like swimming. It also connects outdoor businesses and individuals with educators, non-profit organizations and communities that are in need of volunteers, board members, gear and charitable donations. OIF said every program profiled in Getting Americans Active has been examined to ensure that it meets a strict set of guidelines and will be updated throughout the year. To recommend an outreach program or partner for inclusion, contact Ali Steimke at asteimke@outdoorindustry.org. The database can be accessed at www.outdoorindustry.org.

>> According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for May (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 5.6 percent unadjusted over last year and increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from April. Additionally, April sales, which were initially estimated to have risen 4.4 percent over last year, were revised upward to 4.8 percent. The gains were stronger than NRF had been anticipating. May retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) declined 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from April and increased 6.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. A large part of the month-to-month weakness was in categories that the NRF does not include in retail industry sales -- automotive sales declined 1.6 percent from April and lower gas prices reduced gasoline sales by 1.6 percent from last month. Strength was seen at health and personal care stores, which rose 0.8 percent from April and 7.3 percent over last year, and sporting goods, book, hobby, and music stores, which climbed 0.5 percent from the prior month and 4.0 percent over last May. Unseasonably cool weather seemed to affect sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores, which saw sales slip 0.8 percent from April, though sales continued to rise 4.2 percent over last May. NRF (www.nrf.com) continues to expect retail industry sales to increase 5.0 percent in the second quarter and 4.8 percent this year over 2004.

>> Peregrine is now stocking WaterMark's Harmony line of recreational paddles for kayaking. Peregrine's inventory includes the Adventure, Sea Passage, Estuary and Estuary Tap models. Ordering information is available at 802-863-4228, ext. 283.

>> Yakima's 2005 Road Warrior Tour, the brand's first grassroots initiative, will be making stops at over 20 outdoor industry events and at 80 retailers around the United States showcasing Yakima products and supporting Yakima dealers. The Road Warrior Tour features a 2005 Chevy Silverado Extended Cab gas-electric hybrid truck, outfitted with the new Yakima-LEER Sports Edition Truck Cap, a fiberglass LEER truck cap with Yakima rack hardware factory installed. Since it began in April at the Sea Otter Classic in Monterey Calif., the tour has seen nearly 1 million event attendees and visited nine events. To see if your area is on the tour, visit www.yakima.com.

>> The Professional Paddlesports Association is ramping up for its "Paddlesports Pro 2005: Boosting Your Bottom Line" conference, happening Nov. 13-16, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Touted as the paddlesports industry's only comprehensive national trade conference, it will focus on the industry's business practices and boosting the industry as a whole. To attend or exhibit, visit www.propaddle.com/paddlepro.htm for more details, or contact 703-451-3864 or ppa@propaddle.com.

>> Backpacker's Pantry is expecting some hungry hikers this summer and had doubled its production to meet the demand. The company said the complex process of manufacturing ready-to-eat gourmet meals leaves very little room for error. The labor and high-tech equipment involved in keeping up with the demand has called for an additional shift and investments in additional equipment. These additions will double Backpacker's Pantry production, allowing it to keep pace with demand within the United States and Canada, the company said.

>> Let the merriment begin! Hooked on the Outdoors magazine is ready to tear up Outdoor Retailer Summer Market with its annual Hooked Happy Hour party for show attendees, complete with a dunking tank and live music by Cowboy Mouth. The New-Orleans-based band is known for its legendary live performances featuring authentic style rock n roll. If you've been dying to dunk someone, grab a nomination form at Hooked's booth (#65) during the show with "winners" decided by crowd applause at the party. In addition to live music and free Moosehead beer, the event will feature great gear giveaways from presenting sponsor Gore-Tex and supporting sponsors Kelty and Confluence. The gala will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 12 at the South Entrance Pavilion of the Salt Palace Convention Center.

>> In other Hooked news, the magazine walked away with three awards from the first San Francisco Honorary Publications Awards: best redesign, consumer publication; best feature article, consumer publication above 50,000; and best interview, consumer publication. Hooked won the Best Feature award for "The Kayak and the Cruise Ship" by Jon Waterman (August 2004), and the Best Interview category for Mark Anders' interview with skateboard legend Tony Hawk, "Tony Hawk, Inc." (October 2004). The San Francisco Honorary Publications Awards (www.sfhpa.com) were open to all consumer, trade and online magazines nationwide. According to the organization, the awards offered publications the chance to be recognized for the time and effort expended in creating excellence in the publication.

>> So much for a paperless society -- some retail experts once predicted the growth of the Internet would lead to the demise of the print catalog, but few are suggesting that today. Sales from print catalogs are expected to hit $152 billion this year, up from $143 billion in 2004, said the Direct Marketing Association's Shop-at-Home Information Center in New York. What's more, retailers and online merchants that previously had little interest in print catalogs increasingly are developing them, as new research shows catalogs are great sales drivers, it said. Multichannel retailing is the state of the industry right now, and 80 percent of Americans now shop from home at least some of the time. Plus, the fact that catalogs are delivered to consumers' homes provides an advantage over the Internet. While the web is passive, the mail order catalog is considered an assertive channel and the user decides when to call. They've also proven to have staying power -- nearly six out of 10 catalog shoppers keep a catalog that they order from for at least three months.

>> The Industrial Fabrics Association International is prepping for the IFAI Expo 2005, which will feature innovations incorporating the most extreme and advanced uses of textiles. More than 5,000 participants including fashion and sportswear designers, manufacturers, architects and engineers are expected to visit the Advanced Fabric Exhibition. International artists will be displaying furniture, architectural systems and clothing prototypes alongside the fabrics that inspired them, and IFAI are asking for more materials to support the exhibit and sponsors. Contact Jill Rutledge at 651-225-6981 or jmrutledge@ifai.com for sponsorship information. The expo is Oct. 27-29 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas. For more information, visit www.ifaiexpo.info.

>> Bemis Worldwide has signed on the True North Brand Group to handle its marketing and public relations communications effort. Also, at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market, the company is offering a seminar, "Bemis Design Forum: Tomorrow's Design, Today!" on Aug. 12 from noon to 1 p.m.

>> Horny Toad's Rocky Mountain reps, Jen Mastro and Jen Cordray, received "rep of the year" honors during the apparel maker's annual sales meeting.

>> Nearly half of all Americans avoid shopping on the Internet because they are worried their personal information will be stolen, according to results from a recent survey. The survey also found nearly all Americans think identity theft and spyware are serious problems, but only 28 percent think the government is doing enough to address the issues. About 70 percent said new laws are necessary to protect consumer privacy. Specifically, the survey indicated 48 percent of respondents avoid Internet shopping, while 97 percent think identity theft is a serious problem and 93 percent think spyware is a serious problem. Those questioned were also worried about threats from unwanted "spam" e-mails. Avivah Litan, vice president and research director at Gartner Inc., said the study's findings are consistent with research she is currently conducting. "One of the main findings in that research is that consumers are taking notice of all these security threats and attacks," Litan said. "They are having a direct adverse effect on e-commerce. People are shopping less online, and in the end (the security breeches) will slow down e-commerce growth." The telephone survey was conducted by Pineda Consulting for the Washington-based Cyber Security Industry Alliance, a trade group that has urged the White House to pay more attention to Internet security and lobbied against some security bills it considers unnecessary. The survey questioned 1,003 likely voters from May 2-9 and has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

>> The Return Exchange, a California-based technology company, is among several software makers that help stores spot fraudulent returners -- a group that represents about 1 percent of the shopping public but costs retailers more than $16 billion a year. According to the Return Exchange (www.thereturnexchange.com), its Verify-1 software can identify which customers regularly return without receipts or doctor their sales slips. Here's how it works: A customer making a return must present a driver's license or other government-issued ID, which is used to identify the shopper in the Verify-1 database. Each time the customer returns merchandise, the system compares variables such as return frequency, dollar amounts and time against the store's return policy. Retailers can use the information to tweak and tighten their policies, perhaps placing shorter deadlines on returns or refusing to accept returns without receipts.

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