Outdoor Retailer Summer Market '05 Trends: Accessories

Outdoor specialty retailers have a great opportunity in 2006 to distinguish themselves from the big box purveyors of those handy little thingamajigs that consumers grab by the fist-full. SNEWS® reporters combed the isles at Summer Market this year to find the coolest pocket-sized (some a bit larger) treasures that build margin and rack up the items per transaction at the register.
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The SNEWS® team of editors powered by caffeine, chocolate and beer, ducked and weaved around the trade show floor over the course of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market to ensure we could bring you the most comprehensive take on trends, directions, colors, styles and innovations in stories that will run until we pass out. No, each report is not complete and we apologize in advance if a company feels its product was not mentioned when it should have been. We're only covering product that stood out to us, so if you're not mentioned, we were either too hyped up on caffeine to see you, we didn't think your product stood out sufficiently, or we were just plain clueless -- you pick one. With that in mind, here's our take on trends and new products for cool new accessories:

Outdoor specialty retailers have a great opportunity in 2006 to distinguish themselves from the big box purveyors of those handy little thingamajigs that consumers grab by the fist-full. SNEWS® reporters combed the isles at Summer Market this year to find the coolest pocket-sized (some a bit larger) treasures that build margin and rack up the items per transaction at the register. If you want to know where we looked, here's a hint -- a lot of cool stuff was out in the pavilions.

Cadillac Shoe Products, a company out of Brighton, Mich., that makes…well, shoe products, has taken a bold step with the introduction of a new shoelace. The Comfort Lace looks like Sister Margaret Mary's rosary with beads of elastic. But the rubber bumps in the lace create tension zones between any two eyelets in either direction on a piece of footwear. By reducing the stress on the top of the forefoot, the Comfort Lace prevents those nerve pitches that cause discomfort or loss of circulation. www.cadillacshoe.com
   
Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the water, Aquapac comes out with its new Flip-Phone Case. This waterproof sleeve not only protects your flip-top cell phone from the elements, but it also allows sound and cell signals to pass through so you can still use it. You can still take pictures if your phone is so equipped, and it floats. www.aquapac.net
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Coffee drinkers can now regulate the dosage of their caffeine fix with a new French press travel mug from the Liquid Solution collection of Pacific Cornetta. The Thunder coffee press features a device that stops the brewing process when the lid slides open. The top also features a special port for the addition of cream and sugar so the coffee always stays hot. www.pacific-cornetta.com
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Take some of the comforts of home outside with synthetic or goose down camp pillows from Quixote. Light weight, comfortable and available in two sizes, Quixote pillows make a great substitute for a wadded up jacket or mossy rock. The company also has pillowcases in cotton linen, cotton flannel or Polartec fleece. www.quixotedesign.com
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You've probably never seen so many variations of the carabiner theme than the collection of specialty key chains from Batz. No, you can't clip a rack of quickdraws with them, but if you're looking for hearts, butterflies, horse heads, shopping carts, racecars, flashlights, etc., all with flip latches, you've came to the right place. The company will even laser engrave your shop name on them, so your customers won't forget where they got them. www.batzusa.com
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Wine? Beer? Soda? Bottled water? Each is in danger of the chill sapping effects of a warm day. Built NY has a cool assortment of brightly colored neoprene totes to carry your chilled bottles or cans in singles, two packs, six packs or an expand-o tote fit for a power lunch. A merchandizing program presents the product nicely as a standalone island or an isle end cap for an awesome cooking accessories area.www.builtny.com
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There's a new face in dog retrieval toys coming over from the folks at Canine Hardware who brought you the Chuckit. No, we said Chuckit. You know, those powerful arm extenders that allow you to throw a tennis ball a country mile. The Fanatic is a natural rubber ball with goofy faces and cotton rope for hair. Dogs will love to play fetch out in the yard with this new Chuckit-compatible toy or roughhouse indoors as it's soft and perfect for neck ringing. Fun, fun, fun! www.caninehardware.com
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Even if you don't smoke, you'll appreciate the high-tech gadgets that come along with the outdoor collection of lighters from Colibri. This classic collection of handheld flamethrowers offers windproof waterproof fire starting in both flint and electric ignition. Flashlights and compasses are added features some are equipped with. But the touchless lighters that do the Human Torch "Flame On!" when you run your thumb through the laser beam sensor are just too cool for words.www.colibri.com
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While every accessories company and its brother has web belts, Thomas Bates Designs brings something special to the party, literally. In nylon and leather varieties, the company offers a belt with a built-in church-key style bottle opener. The same style of opener can be found on a pair of flip-flop sandals from Reef -- the perfect way to break the ice by breaking open a brew with your footwear. Back to belts, though. For that one occasion when you thought it was a twist off in your hands, you'll be glad you wore your Bates belt -- even if folks look at you a bit funny when you go to pop the cap. www.thomasbates.com
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If you're doing any business at all in Hacky Sack footbags, you ought to check out the guys at Foot Bag World. The company offers the widest assortment of footbags we've ever seen from cotton knit bean bags, to 32-panel competition leather bags, to an intricate design of densely clustered metallic rings that form an amorphous ball (it's called the heavy metal). It even offers a kit to make a footbag of your own. www.worldfootbag.com
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For something that's just plain fun, the folks at Hog Wild have an assortment of novelty toys with outdoor themes that stick to your fridge or any metal surface. Benders are rubber-coated wire sculptures with magnets in their feet and hands. You can flex their shape and put them in any pose you want. They come in styles for kayakers, campers and extreme skiers, as well as a variety of other styles in bright colors and reusable storage containers. www.hogwild.com

 

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