Outdoor: Did you hear?…Horny Toad honoring creative merchandising, plus Avalanche Jam, Columbia, Trimble, New Balance, Merrell, PowerBar, Outside magazine, Salomon, and more

Climb High outdoor shop honored by Horny Toad, Damage Done headlines Backcountry Access Avalanche Jam fundraiser, Columbia signs licensing agreement with belt manufacturer, aging baby boomers huge source of untapped revenue for retailers, New Balance continues support of Girls on the Run, and much, much more...
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For the weeks of June 28-July 11

>> Blending a pair of 6-foot tall Horny Toads, a surfboard and barbecue grill in its storefront display, Vermont's Climb High outdoor shop was honored as the grand prize winner of the 2005 Horny Toad Summer Cup, a twice-a-year merchandising competition. More than 40 retailers nationwide entered the competition, creating one-of-a-kind displays revolving around the theme of "Every Day is an Adventure" -- Horny Toad's signature tagline. All entrants were judged on creativity and professionalism. As the winners of the 2005 Horny Toad Summer Cup, Climb High won a trip for four employees to Horny Toad headquarters. Their adventure includes surf camp, sea kayaking, a tour of Horny Toad headquarters and a credit towards the fall 2005 Horny Toad order. Three runner-ups in the competition included the Alpine Shop in South Burlington, Vt., Water's Edge in Tofte, Minn., and Doug Sports in Hood River, Ore. They each receive $500 and expert consultation in creating an adventure for their employees, as well as a credit toward their fall 2005 Horny Toad order. Honorable mentions included Summit Hut in Tucson, Ariz., Appalachian Ski & Outdoor in State College, Penn., Idaho River Sports in Boise, Idaho, and Pine Needle Mountaineering in Durango, Colo.

>> With a band called Damage Done headlining your fund-raising event, you know it's going to be a rockin' party. Hosted by Backcountry Access, the fourth annual Avalanche Jam on Sept. 16 is a fund-raiser for the Boulder-based Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Proceeds from last year's event provided the center with much needed funds to offer avalanche education and forecasting for Colorado backcountry users. The center plays an integral role in daily trip planning for Colorado backcountry users so they can recreate safely. In addition to the music from Damage Done (a rock band made up of musicians from local outdoor retailer Neptune Mountaineering), the event will include dinner by Trappeda's Gourmet Café, beer from New Belgium Brewery, an outdoor industry demo village, a silent auction and door prizes. Donors to the silent auction include Backcountry Access, Arapahoe Basin, Arc'Teryx, Marmot, Patagonia, MSR and Black Diamond. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. They can be purchased in advance at your local outdoor retailer or by calling Backcountry Access at 303-417-1345. For sponsorship information, call Steve at BCA at or email steve@bcaccess.com.

>> Three-time freestyle kayaking World Champion Eric "EJ" Jackson was honored for his achievements and contributions to the sport at the inaugural Everest Awards held during the annual Teva Mountain Games in Vail. The Everest Awards are given to the top male and female athletes whose skill and innovation has pushed their sport to new heights and redefined the parameters of the achievable. According to organizers, Everest Award winners are "pioneers, innovators, leaders, change agents and reflect the soul of the sport." Eugene Buchanan, publisher of Paddler magazine, nominated Jackson for the award. Jackson's career in kayaking dates back some 20 years. He has been a US Kayak Team member since 1989, first in slalom, a discipline in which he also is an Olympian, and then freestyle. He and his two children are members of the 2005 US Freestyle Kayak Team. Jackson is also the author of numerous instructional materials for basic river running and playboating and is founder and president of his own manufacturing company, Jackson Kayaks.

>> Trimble and Nextel Communications are providing Backpacker Magazine editors and contributors a way to turn their Nextel phones into a GPS receiver using Trimble Outdoors service. Nextel's GPS mobile phones combine a cell phone, walkie-talkie and GPS navigation in a single device, which eliminates the need for multiple GPS and communications devices. In addition, Nextel's short-range walkie-talkie service and Trimble Outdoors allows avid hikers to communicate and monitor their location when off the Nextel Nationwide Network. A new Backpacker GPS microsite (www.backpacker.com/hikes), in conjunction with Nextel, provides information on past trips and enhanced content, such as photos, trip journals, points of interests and video clips that complement the coverage in Backpacker Magazine. In addition, a variety of online maps are available for readers to view GPS-marked trip content, including high-resolution topographic, aerial photo and street maps covering the continental United States and parts of Alaska and Hawaii. At least 500 new Backpacker Magazine trips are planned per year using Trimble Outdoors on Nextel phones, and will be added to the site.

>> Complementing its women's apparel collection, Columbia Sportswear has signed a license agreement with Another Line for the design, manufacturing and marketing of a new line of outdoor, active women's belts. The new product line features a wide variety of belts that includes leather and fabric offerings and distinctive buckles. Distribution of the Columbia collection will be managed by Another Line through department stores and outdoor retailers across North America. Initial availability is scheduled for spring 2006. Headquartered in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., with a main showroom in New York City, Another Line was founded by designer Gavin Kaplan in 1986. Known for handcrafted belts and fashion accessories, it develops and manufactures belts for ladies, men and children under an assortment of private labels.

>> The nation's 77.6 million baby boomers are heading into their grandma and grandpa years and retailers are chomping at the bit to spend their money, according to an article in The Detroit News. Stores and advertisements are aimed squarely at the potential windfall. In 2002, baby boomers' after-tax income was $2.5 trillion, and it's estimated that grandparents spent $23 billion on their grandchildren that year. By 2007, baby boomers' post-tax income is estimated to reach $2.6 trillion. One grandparent noted in the article that he's at a stage in his life where he can afford "to spoil the little rascals." Even banks are targeting grandparents. Wachovia has recently been advertising its 529 college savings account specifically to grandparents.

>> Indigo Equipment has hired Andy Russell and Dana Caraway to handle sales in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. Other lines that they represent include Montrail, Stonewear Designs, Julbo, Mooloolaba Surfwear and Nikwax. Based out of Bishop, Calif., Russell and Caraway can be reached at 760-873-8433.

>> Since 1999, New Balance has been a presenting sponsor of Girls on the Run International and is extending its sponsorship through 2007. New Balance said the group's experiential learning program educates and prepares young girls for a lifetime of healthy living and self-respect, which fits in well with its corporate philosophies. As the presenting sponsor, New Balance provides assistance on both the national and local level. At the national level, it provides sponsorship funding, support of the annual Council Director Summit, and is the presenting sponsor of the Girls on the Run 5K Race Series. It also provides running shoes for 500 needy Girls on the Run participants every year. Locally, New Balance provides each council with its 5K race supplies, including race numbers and giveaway items. For 2005, New Balance is also offering a Girls on the Run kids' athletic apparel line and will donate a portion of the proceeds from sales back to the national organization.

>> After 16 years repping Yakima, Kahl & Partners is jumping ship to handle sales for Thule Racks. Its territory includes Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, western Nebraska and western Missouri. It will target distribution in the bike, auto, ski and rack specialty markets. Doug Kahl, president of Kahl & Partners, said about the switch, "Our agency spent a lot of time looking at this from every angle before making any decisions and it came down to the fact that Thule has a very clear and focused vision about what they are and what they want to do." Kahl & Partners also represents Asolo, CamelBak, Grindrite, Leedom, Ski2, Spriakut, Stohlquist and Wintersteiger.

>> Taking top honors for trade show booth design excellence, Merrell was awarded the national gold ADDY by the American Advertising Federation. Co-designed by Gould Design, a Grand Rapids-based creative design group, the Merrell exhibit debuted at the World Shoe Association trade show in Las Vegas last August, where the exhibit also took top honors for "First Place Best Booth Design," awarded by WSA. The large two-story exhibit with over 5,300 square feet of space features a unique, free-form sculptural entrance that climbs 20-feet high, resonating with its new "Let's Get Outside" marketing campaign.

>> PowerBar has hired Mike McQueeney as the new sales manager for its sports specialty sales division. McQueeney joins PowerBar with more than 20 years of experience in the cycling and sporting goods industries. In his new position, McQueeney will manage PowerBar's independent specialty sales force, comprised of more than 40 account managers across the United States, and the team's 2005-2006 specialty sales initiatives including a newly formed partnership with Quality Bike Products and nutrition education programs in the field. An avid runner and cyclist, McQueeney comes to PowerBar from Denver, Colo., where he was the owner of two Golden Bear Bikes retail stores since 1997.

>> Outside magazine has snatched Dennis Lewon away from Backpacker to become the magazine's senior editor beginning Aug. 3. Lewon will contribute to Outside's gear reviews and will head Outside's annual Buyer's Guide. Lewon had been with Backpacker since 1997 and was instrumental in the magazine's restructuring and reorganizing of the annual Backpacker Buyer's Guide. Prior to Backpacker, he was a contributing editor at Escape magazine and, before that, editor of Arizona Adventure.

>> R.C. Crisp has been named executive vice president of sales and marketing for United
Cutlery.
He joined United in July 2002 and the company said it has been largely responsible for the sales growth of the firm. Crisp came to United from Citation Apparel, and had previous apparel experience with Lee Company and Farah Manufacturing Company.

>> Backbone Media has moved into some cool new digs, so we hear. You can find its PR folks at: 65 North 4th St., Ste. 1, Carbondale, CO 81623. Everything else stays the same: 866-963-4873 and 970-963-4873. www.backbonemedia.net

>> While Salomon's inline skate unit in Europe and Asia continues to flourish, the inline market in the United States is on the decline in volume, mix, profitability and distribution, and Salomon has decided not to offer the Salomon ILS collection in 2006. Because of this, Salomon is adopting a policy to evaluate each market annually to understand the potential of each market and assign priorities for the overall success of the global business unit. For the remainder of 2005, Salomon North America will continue to sell and service its dealers with the 2005 collection. Beyond 2005, Salomon will service its dealers and the customers who have purchased or will purchase Salomon ILS products with a full after-sales service platform including spare parts and warranty service. Calls regarding orders, order status, spare parts and after sales service can be directed to 800-654-2668.

>> Increasingly, retailers are finding creative solutions in the form of highly specialized merchandise and engaging, easy-to-use websites. In fact, a targeted direct-marketing approach through catalogs and the Web can prove more profitable than traditional brick-and-mortar retail, experts say. In general, online orders are less expensive to process because customers key in their own orders, reducing the number of human order-takers necessary. Plus, developing a functioning e-commerce site can cost as little as $10,000, though $75,000 and up is more typical for a mid-size retailer, depending on its size and complexity. To market successfully online, you need to know your audience and what they're looking for. Tony Svanascini, CEO of Americaneagle.com Inc., a Park Ridge-based web design and development firm, offered these site design tips: Make the site as easy to navigate as possible. Look for ways to reduce the number of clicks required to purchase a product. Include all product options, so that customers can make an appropriate choice. Make sure the type is clearly displayed and large enough to see. Don't overdo the site's artistry -- too much decoration can detract from the primary goal of selling merchandise. Use Macromedia Flash technology appropriately. If it doesn't help sell the product and is simply window dressing, eliminate it. However, it can be used effectively to scroll merchandise, showing more than one angle, for better viewing. Give the site a complete review every two years. Technology changes rapidly, allowing for new features. For example, as high-speed Internet connections are becoming the norm, companies can make their websites richer with more graphics and technology-based features. Increase the average order size by displaying related accessories.

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