After rumblings of an uncertain future, Denali announced last Tuesday that its closing all seven locations. A "going out of business" sale at the Old Saybrook location signals the store's end.

More than 25 years ago, the first store opened as Trailblazer in New Haven and grew to seven stores in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Last year, it rebranded to Denali. Then in May, word spread among insiders about the company's months-long restructuring.

But sometime during the shakeup, leadership decided they "could not find a responsible path forward," they told customers in a letter dominating its website. 

Patagonia confirmed that it has taken over Denali's original New Haven location, but declined to comment further. A request for comment from Denali went unanswered.

The closure is sad news to Mike Schmidt, rep principal in the northeast for Velocity Sales & Marketing. He said Denali helped grow brands and employees, and the teams fostered deep bonds with customers and industry contacts alike.

"Curated specialty retail assortments, community involvement, industry involvement and progressive staff training programs where always part of their best corporate practices," Schmidt said. "They helped develop and teach several generations of retail professionals and those lessons will live on in the employees that take those practices forward and the community programs facilitated through The Denali Foundation."

Allison Frazier, general manager of Vermont-based Stoner//Andrews, with sales reps who have worked with Denali since its start, said similarly that the company's identity was defined by social responsibility, from the brands they worked with to how they built their stores with locally-harvested materials. She said that in this multi-channel retail environment, maybe doing too much too quickly led to their demise.

"It's not going to be the same going to trade shows and not seeing their whole team," Frazier said. 

Read the complete blog post from Denali, in wake of its closing:

Dear Loyal Customers,

After 25 years in business, it is with a heavy heart that we relay the news that Denali will be closing its doors for good. This was an extremely difficult decision, but after months of trying we sadly could not find a responsible path forward.

Thank you to all of our wonderful customers with whom we formed deep bonds over the years. It was the day to day interaction with you that made this journey worthwhile. We would also like to thank our employees for all of their hard work, dedication and friendship.

What began in the early nineties as Trailblazer in New Haven grew to encompass seven stores in two states. It was an honor to serve our local outdoor and athletic communities as well as to support local environmental and youth organizations with The Denali Foundation. We are very proud of what we accomplished and we hope we provided our communities with lasting memories and inspiration.

Beginning July 2nd we will host a store closing sale at our Old Saybrook location. Between now and when we close you may redeem gift cards at our Old Saybrook location only.

Thank you all for your decades of loyalty and support.

Best,
The Denali & Trailblazer Team

Grassroots' reaction to one of its own shutting down

“This is tough news for everyone involved," said Rich Hill, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, of which Denali was a member. "Restructuring is an incredible challenge that many businesses, including Grassroots member retailers, have to face. We have great appreciation for all the work that the team at Denali put into Grassroots, and they will be missed. They have been a positive and important voice in making our community what it is today.”

Related

Denali store in Old Saybrook, CT

Outdoor shop Denali undergoing restructuring

Connecticut-based Denali has begun a restructuring process that will continue over the next few months, according to outdoor industry insiders. It is unclear so far whether the outdoor specialty retailer will close stores. However, the Wakefield location is permanently closed, ...read more

Outdoor Retailer Playbook Cooperation Winthrop

The Outdoor Retailer Playbook, Part 5: Cooperation over competition

Everyone in this industry knows the problem by now: The rise of online shopping has turned the traditional outdoor marketplace on its head. Consumers now turn to the internet first when they need new gear; brands seize the chance to sell it directly through their own websites or ...read more

GOA_Day04Awards-rock creek

A new era for Rock/Creek Outfitters

If you were a regular customer at Rock/Creek Outfitters long enough, the owners, managers, and sales floor staff greeted you by name when you walked through the doors and also came to know your outdoor activities. Shopping there was not merely a transaction; it was a gathering ...read more

Outdoor Products: a table display of shoes, packs and apparel at an outdoor retail shop in California. A husky sleeps on the wood floor.

Aggressive discounting: How online holiday sales take a toll on specialty retail

Black Friday was a success for Salida Mountain Sports, but not because they lured customers in with steep discounts. Prices stayed steady, and if the Colorado store missed some sales because they weren’t discounting, store owner Nate Porter said so be it. Small specialty outdoor ...read more

YETI bucket

YETI ends plans to go public and slashes specialty retailers

After nearly two years of pushing to go public, Yeti Holdings Inc. has decided against it. A legal filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday reveals that CEO Matthew Reintjes made the decision as a result of “market conditions” and asked that materials ...read more

KNOX sign with Grassroots Connect logo

Find out who won Grassroots Outdoor Alliance awards

President Rich Hill kicked off the evening by explaining the Grassroots History Project, which was started a few years back to trace the arc of the group’s growth as a powerful collaboration of retailers and brands. Through hundreds of hours of interviews with members—both from ...read more

Mike Massey

The new retail reality and finding the Win/Win

Just a decade ago, local retailers were the biggest influencers of a shopper's path to purchase. But, just like most other industries—from airlines and hotels to restaurants and even schools‑changing consumer behavior has dramatically upended everything we all knew about how ...read more

buffalo peak outfitters storefront

#CoolShop | Buffalo Peak Outfitters in Jackson, Mississippi

In 1986, Bob McCain thought Jackson, Mississippi, ought to have its own outdoor equipment shop. His home state might not have massive mountains, but trails, waterways, hill, and views are plentiful. Buffalo Peak Outfitters is now in its 33rd year, as a Grassroots Outdoor Alliance ...read more

neptune lab products

"Try new things": Neptune will soon showcase crowd-funded products

Projects on Kickstarter, Indiegogo, and other crowdfunding sites will come to life next month in a new startup showcase in Boulder's Neptune Mountaineering. The NeptuneLAB is the latest experiential concept for the iconic gear shop. Owners Shelley and Andrew Dunbar collaborated ...read more