Specialty Stores Are Heirlooms Worth Saving - SNEWS

Specialty Stores Are Heirlooms Worth Saving

One of our favorite all-time reps was Roch Horton who gave many a Monday night clinic at our store representing Black Diamond equipment and Patagonia. Years ago, we talked about increasing competition and the perilous existence of some of the best outdoor specialty shops in the country. He referred to his favorite quirky traditional stores as heirlooms -- something you don't want to lose.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

By Dan Foster of Mountain Chalet

One of our favorite all-time reps was Roch Horton who gave many a Monday night clinic at our store representing Black Diamond equipment and Patagonia.

Years ago, we talked about increasing competition and the perilous existence of some of the best outdoor specialty shops in the country. He referred to his favorite quirky traditional stores as heirlooms -- something you don't want to lose.

Webster's calls an heirloom, "something of special value handed on from one generation to another."

In retail the best mountain shops are part of the history and culture of their communities. They're involved in local causes and are known for solid advice, service and information on the local outdoor scene. What to wear, where to go and the beta on how to get up or down a mountain are part of the lore that the staff in specialty shops have handed down to succeeding generations.

The inventory a store carries also helps to define these specialty shops.

Increasingly, it is harder to find "special" products that are not a commodity in the marketplace. Wholesalers have exacerbated the problem by getting greedy. They believe that they can continue to cut up the pie and increase distribution in Internet sites and non-traditional outlets without hurting the core shops. These are the stores that created value and built the brand of these manufacturers over many years and now they're getting dissed.

Many manufacturers have gone public, and rather than take the long view, quarterly reports rule the day and that leads to sketchy "quick buck" decisions to satisfy shareholders.

You can't have it both ways and increasing numbers of specialty shops are closing because of flagging sales, lower margins and rising expenses. Some shop owners nearing retirement are calling it a day because it isn't as fun anymore -- the hassle isn't worth the return. Younger owners are hunkering down and hoping the current malaise blows over, but there are too many storefronts and too much square footage chasing a market that isn't really that big.

Joni Mitchell sang, "You don't know what you got till it's gone." Many customers are trying on product, getting sized and getting advice at their local shop, then walking out and buying elsewhere to save a few bucks. Imagine a grim retail world with chains and distant web sites as the only choice for people who love the outdoors.

Manufacturers can make smarter choices in distribution and can segment their lines to differentiate the products sold at specialty. Customers can vote with their dollars to support local shops and they in turn give back to the community.

Otherwise, sit back and watch the slow motion train wreck of closing specialty heirloom shops as they continue to break and are lost from the retail landscape.

Speak up and sound off on this editorial by clicking here and going to the SNEWS Community Forum. To read all of the discussion groups going on in our community, simply go to www.snewsnet.com/cgi-bin/snews/xdpy/forum/00002/index.html

Related

Man steps on the Superfeet FitStation at Go Far in Boulder, Colorado

Are robots invading specialty outdoor retail?

The newest store associate at Boulder, Colorado’s Go Far posts up near the wall of shoes on the store’s far end. Her job description at the running and active lifestyle specialty retailer is fairly specific: She’ll measure and analyze your foot, track your stride and gait, and ...read more

WriteContest-Sponsors-Color.gif

Are you that guy?

Earlier in the season, I received a phone call that must have made sense to the other guy, but left me completely bewildered. The phone rang and I answer with our standard greeting. The guy asked "Hey, were you that guy who helped me the other day?" Bewildered, I asked what ...read more

Mystery Shopper: Sucking the "special" out of "specialty"

Since we were visiting the land of palm trees, winter warmth and New York escapees, we decided to drop into Precision Fitness Equipment in Altamonte Springs, Fla., for what we hoped would be another of our great shopping experiences. Unfortunately, that was not the case, but more ...read more

iPoolSmall.jpg

Health & Fitness Business Show '07: From swings to spas to apparel, other stuff worth a look too

Five weeks after the 2007 show closed its doors, our coverage is starting to wind down. But we don't want you to lose interest -- not yet. Although we've covered highlights in the main product categories for the specialty retailer (strength, cardio, accessories), that isn't all ...read more

Shopping_Bag.jpeg

Sign of the times: Two longtime outdoor specialty shops close doors after weak winter; REI, Moosejaw open new stores

In a way, this story writes itself. This past month, SNEWS learned of two venerable specialty outdoor shops planning to close their doors, while — albeit in separate locations — two of the industry’s larger and more Internet-savvy retailers announced several new store openings. ...read more

Precor_logo2.jpg

Precor lowers select prices to push volume, bridge specialty and sporting goods

In a changing retail fitness landscape, Precor (www.precor.com) will increase the distribution of some of its treadmills and ellipticals through Dick’s Sporting Goods, in conjunction with lowering prices on those cross-over products for all dealers. Officials at the Woodinville, ...read more

"Best Fitness Dealers" website appears with specialty store ratings -- and a masked source

Launched suddenly and unannounced in late February was a website that said it's all about helping consumers purchase quality equipment wisely, directing them to specialty fitness dealers, and rating those dealers. SNEWS® received word of the website, www.bestfitnessdealers.com, ...read more

SupremeCourt.jpg

Guest Editorial: Stop Leegin repeal now -- save Main Street business

In 2007, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned an almost century-old rule in the case of Leegin Creative Leather Products, Inc. vs. PSKS, Inc. The court held that resale price maintenance agreements, which require retailers to adhere to a set price schedule, were not per se (i.e., ...read more

Forzani Group to take on specialty fitness in Canada with a twist

Canada's retail giant Forzani Group has announced its plan to enter the specialty fitness retail arena by early to mid-2005 with a prototype store that it would then start franchising across the country by as early as spring 2006. The stores, to average about 8,000 to 10,000 ...read more