Outdoor: Did you hear?...

NSGA reports hiking boot sales down, event to benefit Friends of Joshua Tree and Access Fund planned, Fischer and Rossignol to return to Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '05, Ambler's Peter Ambler and Sean Grennan killed in car accident, plus much more...
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>> New data from the National Sporting Goods Association (NSGA) reported that hiking boot sales declined 8 percent between October 2003 and March 2004. Retail sales of athletic footwear rose 0.2 percent during the six-month period. Sales for the six-month reporting period were $6.26 billion versus $6.25 billion for the same period the previous year. Sixteen of the 23 types of sport and athletic footwear covered in the survey showed sales increases. Also, during the six-month reporting period, full-line sporting goods stores accounted for 13.8 percent of athletic footwear unit sales, an increase from 12.5 percent last year. Specialty athletic footwear stores lost market share in athletic shoe categories, while discount stores were flat. Specialty athletic footwear stores claimed 11.5 percent of the athletic footwear market versus 12.5 percent the previous year. Discount stores held at 22 percent. Online/internet sales were 3 percent of the total athletic footwear market, up from 2.8 percent the previous year. To gather the data, NSGA surveys a total of 40,000 households -- 20,000 households twice a year. The full report on the athletic footwear market will be part of the "The Sporting Goods Market in 2005," which will be available in May 2005. For information on NSGA research, contact Thomas Doyle at 847-296-6742, ext. 107, or tdoyle@nsga.org.

>> UNITED KINGDOM -- Did you know that to burn off one plain M&M candy, you need to walk the full length of a football field? Mountain Warehouse in the United Kingdom is making sure Brits know about it and are doing something about it by supporting National Walking Day, Sept. 19, and International Walk to School Week, Oct. 4-8. With the UK government issuing warnings that Britain is on the verge of an obesity epidemic, Mountain Warehouse founder Mark Neale said he believes that walking your way to health and fitness is one of the easiest ways to tackle the problem. In addition to supporting the two events -- which drew 3 million people in 29 countries last year -- the retailer is also offering promotions on select outdoor gear for kids and adults. For more information, check out http://www.mountainwarehouse.com/.

>> Specialty boating supply and apparel retailer West Marine Inc. (Nasdaq: WMAR) on Sept. 1 reported that August same-store sales fell 6.4 percent, more than double analysts' estimates for a decline of 3 percent. The retailer attributed the shortfall to continued soft sales and the effects of Hurricane Charley. The company said August total sales rose 4.1 percent to $56.8 million from $59.2 million. West Marine said that as a result of the lower sales, it does not expect to meet previous third-quarter earnings guidance of 43 cents to 44 cents a share. It plans to update estimates in mid-September, after the Labor Day weekend. Analysts had expected the company to earn 41 cents a share in the third quarter. West Marine had benefited from monthly reports of same-store sales that posted consecutive increases. The company quickly became a Wall Street favorite, with its stock more than doubling, largely a result of strong monthly same-store sales. Now, with same-store sales stumbling badly, the retailer is switching gears and said starting next year it will only report same-store sales quarterly, not monthly, to "better emphasize trends in our business, as it removes some of the short-term effects that weather has in monthly sales results," CEO John Edmondson said. He added that because 70 percent of sales are related to maintenance and repair, "it has become increasingly apparent to us that our comparable store sales over the entire year can usually be expected to remain relatively flat." Analysts have had concerns those same-store sales would soon sputter as the easy comparables hit their one-year anniversary.

>> From Oct. 1-3, the folks at Black Diamond Equipment, Patagonia, Adventure 16, Friends of Joshua Tree and The Access Fund are bringing back a popular weekend event with the help of the American Mountain Guides Association (AMGA) to help climbers push their skills while being safe. Climbing leaders like Peter Croft, Tiffany Levine, Katie Brown, Adam Stack and AMGA Guides will help participants build better anchors and fine-tune climbing skills. Self-rescue and first-aid classes will also be offered. Climb Smart will lead crag clean-ups and environmental outdoor classes to increase awareness of the impact we as climbers make. The end goal is to build a sustainable climbing environment in Joshua Tree and at local crags. On Saturday evening, sponsors will host a dinner, silent auction and slide show at the Joshua Tree Community Center to benefit Friends of Joshua Tree and The Access Fund. $100 covers attendance for all three days of climbing, clinics, Saturday dinner and the slide show. Free camping is being made available for the first 100 to register. Contact Friends of Joshua Tree to sign up or for more information at 760-366-9699 or check out www.friendsofjosh.org.

>> REI has announced plans to open a store in Marlton, N.J., in March 2005, at the southwest corner of Route 73 and Brick Street, in half of the former Zagara grocery store. The 22,500-square-foot store will be about 30 miles from the REI store in Conshohocken, Penn., which opened in 1991. Both stores serve the Philadelphia market, Conshohocken to the northwest, Marlton to the east. The Marlton store, leased from John Zagara, will employ about 55 full- and part-time staff.

>> CANADA -- Our hearts and prayers go out to the families and friends of Peter Ambler, 31, owner of Ambler Mountain Works in Alberta, Canada, and Sean Grennan, 31, vice president for Ambler Mountain Works. Both were killed in a car crash on Aug. 29. Grennan's girlfriend, Martha Mills, 28, also died in the crash. The three were returning from a wedding. Ambler leaves behind his wife, Holly Holbrook, and a young son, Lucas. Services have already been held. In place of flowers, Ambler's family has asked that donations in his name be made to The Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley, Friends of Wildlife Canada or an environmental organization of choice.

>> A multi-national team called The Everest Peace Project intends to unite the international community through an expedition to the summit of Mt. Everest in the spring of 2005, sending a "profound message of peace, teamwork and global understanding from the top of the world." This month, the entire team will arrive from all over the globe to the San Francisco Bay Area and have a teambuilding Peace Climb of Mt. Shasta, a 14,162-foot mountain in California. What makes this climb special is the climbers will attempt to summit this peak on Sept. 21, which is specially designated by the United Nations as "The International Day of Peace" (World Peace Day). On the team and appearing for the ascent will be climbers from Israel, Palestine, Nepal, Vietnam, India and the United States. On the summit of Mt. Shasta in September, the "Peace Climbers" from various faiths and cultures will all join together and facing the direction of Mt. Everest (the mountain they will together climb next year) plant the United Nations' flag. The main objective of The Everest Peace Project is to promote a global community of peace, education and understanding. On the project's educational and informative website: www.EverestPeaceProject.org, they list eight ways in which they will promote and help create peace through their effort. One of those ways is through inspiration.

>> Outdoor Retailer has announced that after sitting out a few shows, key Nordic brands Fischer and Rossignol are returning as exhibitors at the upcoming Winter Market show (Jan. 29-Feb. 1, 2005) to be held in Salt Lake City, Utah. Fischer and Rossignol will join the current line-up of Nordic and backcountry offerings from Salomon, Black Diamond, K2, Garmont, Alpina, Atomic, Karhu, Life-Link and G3.

>> On Thursday, Sept. 9, The Timberland Company will kick off its Seventh Annual Global Serv-a-palooza, a worldwide community service initiative that impacts neighborhoods from Boston to Brazil. This day of service unites Timberland employees, business partners and consumers around the concept of collaboration and strengthening the local community through service. The combined projects will generate more than 30,000 hours of service in just one day, benefiting more than 45 communities worldwide. This year's Serv-a-palooza will benefit schools, parks, camps, community centers and social service organizations that currently lack the human resources, capital or skills needed to complete these projects. These community projects impact a wide variety of causes including education, youth recreation, senior citizens, the physically challenged, family services and the environment. Service events will take place in 24 countries, including Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, United States and Vietnam. While Serv-a-palooza is the most visible community service event Timberland organizes, the company offers consumers the opportunity to participate in local service projects throughout the year at www.timberlandserve.com. The website features a database of nearly 30,000 nationwide volunteer opportunities and allows consumers to search by location and organization, enabling them to serve in the neighborhood or industry of their choice.

>> CANADA -- The British Columbia Provincial government has recently announced it intends to allow a group of Whistler-based ski developers to formally solicit public support for their proposal to build a sight-seeing gondola to the Center (Second) summit of the Chief. The gondola would have its base at the large gravel pit beside the Highway, south of the Chief campground, and would employ 15 or so towers to reach the Centre Peak where the summit area would be fenced off for tourists to shop and unload their money. The lift would hold 22 gondola cabins, look rather like the Excalibur lift on Blackcomb, and carry 880 tourists per hour to the top. It would cross over the Backside trail several times, and skim close by the South summit on its way to the top of the Centre Chief. Ironically, the place chosen for the top station, shopping and restaurant is precisely where, over the years, the ashes of many people have been spread, including Ben De Menche. Climbers descending off Bellygood Ledge would be greeted as they exit the trees by gondolas skimming close overhead, and people on the South Summit would actually become a tourist attraction for those passing by on the gondola. It is quite reasonable to speculate that over time, the Chief would become branded as a de facto private enterprise, marketed and sold, and what is presently a public space would slowly become a private domain. A new Squamish community group headed by Megan Olesky, The Friends of the Chief, is developing a campaign to try and derail the gondola, but very considerable support from a coalition of interests will be needed. If you wish to be placed onto their email broadcast list, please write to Olesky at: friendsofthechief@yahoo.ca.

>> SIA and VERB, a national government-funded kids' marketing campaign, have partnered on the creation of the first-ever VERB SnowSports Day on Dec. 4. The event will take place in retail stores nationwide and will serve as a catalyst to introduce kids of all ages to snowsports. Retailers across the nation will be invited to participate in this annual one-day event along with top-performing brands in the snowsports industry. Kids will be provided with "Snow Pass" access books motivating them to try different winter sports activities from December 2004 through March 2005. A variety of other promotions and motivators will also be available to kids visiting participating retail stores on this specific day. Retail stores will have access to branded point-of-purchase items and media kits to drive local traffic into the storefront. The Snow Pass book will drive participants to verbnow.com and snowlinkjr.com for various activity alternatives, gaming, sweepstakes contests and more throughout the winter months. Prize packs will be awarded to a randomly selected site visitor each week from January through March. For complete information on VERB SnowSports Day and SIA's Project Kids initiative, contact Alicia Allen at aallen@thesnowtrade.org.

>> Merrell earned the World Shoe Association's (WSA) "Best of Show" award for booth design at the August show. The new booth was designed in collaboration with Gould Designs of Grand Rapids, Mich., and stands two stories high with over 5,300 square feet of space to clearly display the product. The award judging was based on creativity, space planning, booth layout, highlighting of the brand image, use of graphics, lighting, audio/visual and inventive use of materials. WSA, held in Las Vegas, Aug. 5-8, is the largest footwear tradeshow in the United States, with over one million square feet of exhibit space and 26,000 attendees.

>> "Never let 'em see you sweat" is a phrase that has apparently inspired a survey that highlights body odor and sweat stains. Apparently, according to the recent survey almost half of all Americans admit they will negatively perceive professionals who show sweat marks on their clothes. In addition, Americans also believe politicians are the second-sweatiest professionals in America, trailing only behind traders on the stock exchange floor and slightly ahead of broadcast news reporters and college professors. Apparently, athletes are not considered a profession. A majority of Americans, 60 percent, believe stress is the leading cause of sweat on the job among professionals, followed by looming deadlines (15 percent), frustration with co-workers (10 percent) and presenting to clients or senior executives (seven percent). Sixty percent of men and 27 percent of women say they've experienced noticeable sweat marks on the job -- we can only assume that the percentage is so low for women simply because they "glow" rather than "perspire." Naturally, commercialism takes center stage following the survey as The Dockers brand announced that the company is the unofficial shirt sponsorship of the 2004 presidential election -- really. The brand actually provided presidential candidates, John Kerry and George W. Bush, with competition-ready shirts containing Perspiration Guard technology that is supposed to drastically minimize unsightly perspiration marks from showing through, no matter how heated the campaign becomes. The shirts also utilize Refresh Action, an antimicrobial technology that actively eliminates the bacteria that causes odor, keeping clothes smelling fresher, longer. Now, if they could just add in a dose of Truth Action to force politicians to tell the truth and only the truth, we'd be on to something.

>> SIA has won the first-place recognition from the International Association Exhibition Management's (IAEM) 2004 Art of the Show Competition for "Signage/Decoration."

>> Schoeller Switzerland has won a 2004 Guides' Choice Award from the American Alpine Institute. Schoeller was selected for its Dryskin-extreme fabric used in Mammut's mountaineering Champ Pants and New Age Jacket, also featuring the multi-purpose 3XDRY finish.

>> Kwik Ski and Snowboard Products has hired Paul Engelken to the winter sports division as sales manager. Engelken has spent the last 14 years working in specialty ski and snowboard shops in Northern California. The last five years were spent as the ski hardgoods/accessory buyer and supervisor of all backshop and winter retail operations at Any Mountain (a 10-store retail chain) in Corte Madera, Calif.

>> Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has hired Michelle Barnes as its new vice president in charge of marketing. Barnes was formerly vice president of marketing and sales for Outward Bound USA, a non-profit, adventure-based, educational organization. Barnes is currently an active board member of Big City Mountaineers, a non-profit organization focused on empowering at-risk urban youth through outdoor adventures, as well as serving on the board of the Outdoor Industry Women's Council.

>> Coghlan's Ltd., honored the Thomas F. Gowen & Sons Sales Agency as its "2004 Sales Agency of the Year" in recognition of "outstanding achievements in sales, customer relations and territory development." The sales agency is based out of Springfield, Penn., and represents Coghlan's products to retailers in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

>> The McNett Corp. has retained Backbone Media LLC of Carbondale, Colo., to manage its public relations efforts and brand development.

>> The Wacoal Sports Science Corp., makers of CW-X Performance Conditioning Wear (www.cw-x.com), has hired The Lane Group to represent the line in the southeastern United States. This brings the total number of rep groups carrying CW-X to eight, representing a combined team of 23 field reps.

>> Kombi Ltd., a manufacturer of performance handwear and base layers, has named Peter Curran to the position of product manager. Curran will work on both the Kombi and Akimbo brand, the company's latest line of snowboard gloves and base layers.

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