Russell Rainey, owner of Rainey Designs Inc., told SNEWS® that the company is indeed returning to selling the HammerHead and SuperLoop telemark bindings to retailers, but only on a very select basis.
Beginning this fall, the Rainey Designs dealer program has added seven retailers in exclusive territories. Rainey told SNEWS® he has not been promoting this deal and will expand slowly as retailers contact him.
"My main motivation to start selling at retail again was out of loyalty," Rainey told SNEWS®. "Loyalty means a lot to me and I had quite a few dealers still buying my binding at full pop just because they wanted the product in their stores and because they wanted to support me."
Rainey added that another, though very secondary reason for restoring the retail connection, is that he began to realize that despite the success his program has had selling direct over the last year, his product and brand name will quickly lose cache in the long term if it is not visible to a broader audience.
When Rainey made the decision to go direct in September 2001, he told us he hoped to sell 1,000 HammerHead bindings, but did not know if that was possible. Not only possible, but in fact Rainey exceeded his target by nearly 200 bindings.
He hopes to do as well if not better this year, in addition to selling through retailers. Rainey's retail program is carefully crafted to protect him and his loyal dealers, he says. A dealer has to commit to purchasing 100 bindings to qualify. He offers a 40-percent margin, meaning the dealer cost is right around $125. Rainey will also guarantee that there will be no discounting and that the retailer will have exclusive rights to the sales of Rainey bindings in the retailer's territory.
SNEWS® View: Tele binding wars appear to be heating up again, with a cast of players fighting for market dominance in a very niche field. Hope for a new boot/binding standard is still stuck in limbo and until manufacturers make the move to standardization, telemark sales in terms of both units and dollars will remain, shall we say, less than impressive?