Outdoor: Did you hear?...

SIA show sold out, Truckee River Whitewater Park opens without hitch, Snowlinkjr.com has eye on Gen Y, Walden Kayaks sold, Chaco gets seal of approval, Karhu treks into Nordic Walking with Exel, Arc'Teryx takes innovation on the road, plus much more...
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>> SIA President David Ingemie called SNEWS to let us know that as of Nov. 10 the SIA.04 SnowSports Show is sold out. The association is already placing exhibitors that don't have confirmed booth space on the waiting list. SNEWS View: This marks the first time SIA has been sold out since the mid-1990s, according to SNEWS sources, and bodes well for the industry still dealing with a challenging economy. Certainly, last year's weather helped, and perhaps, just perhaps, the industry is finally accepting and getting used to having SIA as the kick-off to the association's much ballyhooed "See It, Try It, Buy It" buying cycle.

>> According to our eyes on the scene, the Truckee River Whitewater Park grand opening early last week went off without a hitch and featured a diverse crowd representing a variety of environmental and tourism interests, mingled with a bipartisan crowd of elected and appointed officials. The group celebrated the creation of the whitewater park through downtown Reno, Nev., as another success in a regional effort to ensure the river's future. As community representatives spoke at the podium, several dozen kayakers rode the rapids to podium's right, hooting and hollering for the duration of the ceremony. Specialty retailers are certainly taking notice of the park, and Jim Bell, owner of Sierra Adventures, is one. He's moved his rafting and bicycle renting business to a location on the river walk, about 30 feet from the Truckee River. Visitors can, literally, walk out of their hotel room to his shop, rent a kayak and be in the water within minutes. Unconfirmed rumors are circulating that Cabela's is also considering being a part of a planned outdoor sports shopping mall in Sparks, also along the Truckee River. According to sources, the mall would be built within a 400-acre area, on a 1,600-acre ranch. It would include a 40-acre RV park and an interpretive center where people with binoculars can view wildlife.

>> SnowSports Industries America (SIA) has launched a consumer suite of websites designed to educate and entertain current and potential snowsports consumers. Snowlinkjr.com was created solely for the 14-under age group -- Generation Y. The site contains games, educational tools, contests, newsletters, participation drivers, athlete interviews, videos, coloring books, wallpaper and more. SIA plans to drive traffic to Snowlinkjr.com via what it says is a "massive horizontal online media buy and sophisticated search engine placement technique." The media buy will include a cross-pollination of kids' websites which yield high traffic such as Kaboose.com, Bonus.com, MSN Kids, and other properties such as AOL Kids, Weather.com and more. SIA has also developed content syndication agreements with numerous media partners to leverage Snowlinkjr.com content across more sites for additional impressions. Winterfeelsgood.com, another key element of the Project Kids initiative, will serve as the online resource for the SIA public awareness campaign. This site is intended to provide useful information that can help adults and children achieve health and fitness through the winter months. Wintertrails.org, a subset of the Winter Feels Good program, highlights the sport of snowshoeing and the products, brands, retailers and resorts involved. The final component of the consumer suite is Snowsportspanel.com, an online consumer research survey system devoted to understanding the consumers of wintersports products. The SnowSports Consumer Panel is a unique tool which SIA plans to use to examine, through market research, changing consumer behaviors, attitudes and perceptions. SIA will offer its members access to the data in the coming months.

>> Jeffrey DeSantis and Bill Hearn recently purchased Walden Kayaks from Hardigg Industries. Production will remain at the Walden Kayak manufacturing facility in Ayer, Mass. DeSantis, new president of Walden Kayaks, has extensive experience building technical businesses and, according to the release, "directing and organizing revenue efficiency" (we assume that means making companies more profitable). Hearn, new director of sales and marketing at Walden Kayaks, brings design and production experience including kayak and paddle manufacturing to the company. Hearn started paddling as a youngster with his family, and competed internationally on the U.S. Whitewater Team for 10 years. Hearn siblings Cathy and David are whitewater slalom World Champions and Olympians.

>> The Conservation Alliance, a coalition of outdoor industry businesses working to fund conservation and recreation causes, has announced its latest round of funding, six grants totaling $160,000 to organizations working to protect lands for habitat and recreation. Grants include the following: Appalachian Mountain Club -- $28,000 for its continuing grassroots efforts to designate 113,000 acres of unprotected land in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) as Wilderness; Cook Inlet Keeper -- $22,000 to expedite education and outreach to south central Alaska citizens on new and mounting efforts to promote extracting natural gas from coalbeds, potentially from private property and sensitive public lands; Klamath-Siskiyou Wildlands Center -- $30,000 for the Klamath-Siskiyou Wild Corridors Project, creating and implementing a comprehensive program of conservation and restoration of key wild habitat in southwest Oregon and northwest California; Nevada Wilderness Project: $30,000 to create the Nevada Wilderness Coalition, a volunteer corps of citizens from the eastern part of the state with a personal stake in the region's quality of life and recreation (Coalition members will receive training on fieldwork and also coordinate communications with legislators and other government officials); Predator Conservation Alliance -- $20,000 to initiate grassroots efforts supporting wildlife and muscle-powered recreation in the Gallatin and Beaverhead/Deerlodge National Forests of Montana; Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance (SUWA) -- $30,000 to the third phase of SUWA's 2003-2004 Fossil Fuels Campaign, which is building grassroots support to ensure appropriate recognition for and treatment of Utah lands congressionally proposed for Wilderness designation, with specific regard to plans for aggressive fossil fuel exploration and extraction on the Colorado Plateau and the Great Basin. For more information on the Conservation Alliance, click on www.conservationalliance.com.

>> BackcountryStore.com has announced it is turning to print to drive website traffic. Its mailing of 125,000 catalogs will hit mailboxes this week. The Winter '03 catalog is the first for BackcountryStore.com and will become a regular part of the company's direct-mail activities. As you may recall, we reported Altrec.com had turned to print just weeks ago. BackcountryStore.com plans on sending out five or six catalogs a year and is viewing the print effort as a "very cost-effective way to drive people to the website." The 24-page 10-1/2-inch-by-10-1/2-inch catalog features a product mix from BackcountryStore.com's most popular manufacturers including The North Face, Burton, Arc'Teryx, Marmot, Black Diamond and Salomon. Catalogs are being mailed to "a select list of BackcountryStore.com customers and visitors," we were told. 

>> Chaco has been awarded the official Seal of Acceptance by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) for the company's Z/1 and Z/2 Performance sandals. The sandals received the recognition because they offer a biomechanical arch support that controls the foot while in motion.

>> Karhu and Exel Oyj Finland have announced that Karhu has been awarded the exclusive rights to distribute Exel's line of Nordic Walking poles in North America. Both companies are banking that Nordic Walking participation levels will grow in the United States as they have in Europe. In Finland, for example, some 10 percent of the population now is said to participate in Nordic Walking on a regular basis -- less than seven years after its 1997 launch. In the German-speaking countries, approximately 1 million people are Nordic Walking for exercise, a significant increase since its launch in 2000. For Karhu, it gives the company an opportunity to enter into the year-round market and reach out into distribution channels that exist beyond snow and ski. Tracy Ferland, product and marketing manager for the Exel brand at Karhu, said, "Once walkers realize that they can increase total body fitness, increase caloric expenditures 20 percent or more compared to their normal walking routine, and that this is a fun workout, we think they'll be hooked." Karhu plans to adapt the marketing and business models used successfully by Exel in Europe and Japan to appeal to consumers in the U.S. and Canadian markets. The company has reported it has already begun the process of building relationships with fitness organizations, instructors, health clubs, walking organizations, athletes and celebrities, and the company has announced it will launch aggressive advertising and public relations campaigns to spotlight the benefits of Nordic Walking.

>> In late October, Arc'Teryx hosted what the company is dubbing an "Evening of Innovation." Arc'Teryx selected Montreal, Quebec, as the location for the first event, and invited 500 key retailers, shop employees and VIP customers from the region. The objective was to showcase the company's designs in technical outerwear and backpacks while also highlighting the many innovations Arc'Teryx has developed for the outdoor market. Carried out over four nights, Arc'Teryx managed to create a unique trade show feeling in an environment that was educational and fun, according to reports. Each evening kicked off with a short presentation on the history and philosophies of the company, followed by plenty of wine, beer, food and music. To make the evening as informative as possible, Arc'Teryx also teamed with representatives of Gore and Malden to bring a unique educational environment to the affair. The company plans to hold four more Evenings of Innovation in 2004, targeting major metropolitan areas including New York, Seattle and San Francisco.

>> Brunton has hired Jason Kintzler as the company's new marketing manager. Born in Lander, Wyo., and raised in Bozeman, Mont., Kintzler most recently honed his media skills while anchoring KTVQ Television, the CBS affiliate in Billings, Mont. Kintzler's responsibilities as Brunton's marketing manager will include overseeing public relations efforts, developing advertising strategies, trade show coordination, photography, copy writing and website development.

>> Backbone Media has snagged Julie Oldham who just recently resigned as the associate publisher and director of advertising at Climbing Magazine. Oldham will lead the media buying division for Backbone Media. In related news, Backbone also added Ben Fibbe, formerly the assistant director of communications for USA Basketball, as an account executive.

>> Petzl has hired Dale Bard as sport division manager. In his new position, Bard will be responsible for the overall sales direction of the sport division, and will work closely with Petzl's marketing department to reinforce Petzl's position in the climbing category. Bard has more than 33 years of climbing under his belt, and is certainly a well-recognized name in the climbing community. Prior to joining Petzl, Bard served as international sales manager for Five Ten.

>> Tecnica USA has hired Carlo Lingiardi as the company's new vice president and division manager for outdoor footwear. Lingiardi joins Tecnica after serving as vice president of sales and operations at Geox USA Inc., a footwear company based in Newark, Del. Prior to Geox, Lingiardi spent five years as marketing and sales leader with W.L. Gore & Associates in Elkton, Md.

>> Schoeller Switzerland has announced the opening of a new office in Korea. The new facility will serve as a marketing and sales office to further expand Schoeller collections and technologies into key Korean markets such as leisure wear, fashion, work safety and interior design. The Seoul showroom will provide an opportunity to maximize sales efforts, marketing services and training support to its already existing customers in mountaineering, golf and outdoor apparel. CEO of Schoeller Korea Inc. is Kyoo-Sik Cho. Cho has worked internationally in the textile and apparel business for over 24 years and graduated from Yonsei University with a degree in economics.

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