Just when you thought
Watermark had run short of acquisition cash, the company goes out and
acquires injection-molded snowshoe maker SnoWalkers of North
Chelmsford, Mass. In a general statement to the press, Watermark Gear
Division president Duncan Robins said, "SnoWalkers will allow Yakima
and our dealers to reach a broader audience, by offering a low cost
snowshoe alternative and encouraging the entire family to participate.â€
Talking with SNEWSÂ® , Robins said, "We became friendly with the
SnoWalkers people during our entry into the snowshoe business last
year. They eventually came to us saying they might exit the business. A
deal was struck that proved worthwhile for both parties." Terms of that
deal were not disclosed.
As to the product, Robins was candid in his observation: "Some changes
are needed, and we'll pick away at them. But remember there's only so
much we can do and still keep SnoWalkers well-priced."
As to where the marketing emphasis will be placed for the newly
acquired SnoWalkers, Robins added: "The children's and family market
offer tremendous potential for this product. This is a product that's
very affordable for a family of four."
Despite being well-priced, SnoWalkers never really took off in either
outdoor specialty or ski shops. The reason? They just looked cheap,
made a lot of noise on hardpack snow and the bindings were -- how do we
say this politely? -- less than secure. The good news for those who
sold or rented SnoWalkers was that they worked surprisingly well and
filled a much-needed price point. With their design talent and
attention to detail, Yakima could turn SnoWalkers into something far
better with a simple tweak and then offer snowshoe retailers a truly
well-priced entry-level product.
We also think
that having an affordable family product is very much in tune with the
state of the market where price/value is everything, especially when
all indications are that family participation in close-to-home outdoor
sports is about to boom.