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Outdoor: Did you hear?…

Outdoor Retailer Winter Market '04 still four days; Peregrine's David Stone passes away; Scott Singer leaves the family business; Grivel management shifts; Black Diamond hires familiar faces; REI stores reap from Internet sales; PowerBar calls for athlete applications; Paddlers hit the flood waters of Isabel; Deckers signs licensees; Eagle Creek promotes Millenacker to VP; plus a whole lot more.

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>> Despite rumors to the contrary, Outdoor Retailer show management confirmed with SNEWS that Winter Market remains a four-day show. Outdoor Retailer Trade Show Director Peter Devin told SNEWS that, “while there is strong interest in exploring a three-day show, there is by no means a consensus. We will continue to listen to the industry about which direction they want us to take regarding the show length for future dates.” Outdoor Retailer, though, has replaced its two-day On-Snow Demo with the Backcountry Base Camp, which will focus on backcountry sports, safety and education. The new one-day pre-show event will be held Jan. 29, followed by the winter trade show Jan. 30-Feb. 2, 2004. The event’s location has yet to be determined.

>> Peregrine Outfitters’ David Stone passed away Sept. 23 after a hard fought battle with stomach cancer. Stone spent more than 20 years in the outdoor industry, holding positions with International Mountain Equipment and Climb High, and as Peregrine Outfitters’ marketing manager for the last 10 years. Peregrine President Bob Olsen said Stone “gathered a large and varied group of friends, drawn by his grace and remarkable sense of humor. David brought expertise, humor and artist’s flair to everything he did. He was a fixture at every OR show with a near legendary capacity for parties and free gear.” Stone is survived by his wife Lin, daughters Molly and Scarlet Rose, and sister Francis. A private family service will be held followed by a celebration of his life for friends at a later date this fall. The family would appreciate cards and letters — particularly those with any stories or photos of Stone. Memorial contributions may be sent to the Stone Children’s Fund, c/o P.O. Box 2343, So. Burlington, VT 05407-2343.

>> Scott Singer, former buyer for Backcountry Experience, and son of store-owner Kirk Singer, is leaving the outdoor industry to work as an IT consultant in Durango, Colo. Kirk has been shopping around Backcountry Experience, and we at SNEWS thought his son might secure a piece of the business. But Scott says operating the store has been “challenging to say the least,” and the industry has changed to the degree that he’s more interested in pursuing his other love — computers. Scott had been in the outdoor industry since he was a junior in high school, but his interest in computers dates back to his old Timex Sinclair 1,000. Introduced in 1980, that dandy piece of machinery sold for about $200, with a whopping 16K RAM pack. My how things have changed.

>> Bill Belcourt resigned from his position as president of Grivel North America (GNA) on Sept. 10 and is moving to Black Diamond (see story below). Belcourt and company vice president Mark Twight began the distribution of Grivel and Roca in January 2002. Twight will step into the presidency, directing company strategy while continuing his role as marketing director. Mike Mead, who has managed customer service and daily operations since GNA’s inception, will now take over as product and sales manager. Mike Makely will assume additional customer service and fulfillment duties. Alycia Cavadi at Momentum Media PR will assume a greater role in GNA’s communication. Said Twight about Belcourt’s departure, “It’s for the best because GNA is lighter and faster, and with me here, it’ll be just as loud. We remain and will remain friends.” Grivel North America is an independent distributor of Grivel brand climbing gear and accessories based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

>> Black Diamond has filled three company positions with faces its very familiar with. Starting Oct. 1, Dave Narajowski takes over as senior design team leader, Bill Belcourt as climbing hardware category manager and Thomas Laakso as ski line category manager. Narajowski, formerly a vice president of engineering at Modaliti Design, is re-joining Black Diamond where he worked seven years ago and has been contractually working for the past nine months. Narajowski will lead design innovation for the ski and mountain lines. Belcourt, formerly with Grivel North America, is also re-joining Black Diamond, and will use his sales background and climbing experience in the climbing hardgoods category. Laakso, formerly the advanced concepts director for The North Face, also worked at Innovative Composite Engineering (ICE), which worked as a vendor on the Black Diamond Cobra Ice Tool.

>> Cycle Oregon, the annual 500-plus mile ride through a section of the Beaver State, offers one of those rare situations when you get to see a cross section of what products outdoor consumers are buying. Of the 2,000 riders, more than 90 percent camp nightly and their campsites resemble, well, a military base camp with tents stretching to the horizon. SNEWS trolled the campsite noting brand preferences and found the rider’s choice of tent directly related to their bicycle choice. That is, the more expensive the bike, the better the tent. If you know your high-end road bikes, you know that Serotta, Seven, Merlin and most anything with an Italian name, like DeRosa, means some serious coin has been plunked down. The pricier bikes were parked in front of the more expensive — and high-tech — tents, like Mountain Hardwear and The North Face. Owners of $2,000-plus Treks, LeMonds and other “middle range” bikes favored Sierra Designs and more techy Kelty models. Moving down to your basic old 10-speeds, recumbents and all manner of two and three-wheeled craft, Coleman ruled the day with a smattering of Ridgeway by Kelty and, surprise, a lot of several-year-old Quest dome tents. In a move to make camping easier for riders this year, Cycle Oregon instituted a “sherpa” system with over 100 tents pre-set up, awaiting riders as they rode into camp. The idea proved a winner. Retailer G.I.Joes provided the Coleman-branded dome tents for the program.

>> REI’s new store pickup service has surpassed the co-op’s projections since its launch in July. Here’s how it works: REI and REI-Outlet online customers have the option to pick up their Internet orders at their local retail store without a shipping charge. What REI has found is one-fourth of all its Internet orders are now delivered to stores and more than one-third of the customers who pick up their Internet orders buy more gear while at the store. On average, customers are adding $32 to the store’s coffers per pickup order, and that money now represents one percent of REI’s total store sales. “Far from the concern of the web cannibalizing stores, we are using the Internet to measurably increase store sales while also lifting Internet sales. At REI we feel that we have a lot more to gain when our sales channels work together, and don’t see a lot of value in pitting e-commerce sales in competition against retail sales,” said Joan Broughton, vice president of REI’s multi-channel programs.

>> PowerBar is putting out the call for applications to athletes and sport influencers for the 2004 PowerBar Team Elite athlete sponsorship program. Sponsored athletes receive energy bar products, branded gear and apparel for training and competition, and tools to help promote themselves and events within their communities. In exchange, athletes publicly represent the spirit of PowerBar and educate the public about its products. In response to feedback from past members, PowerBar now offers a two-year sponsorship agreement for athletes to reduce the amount of application paperwork and is more convenient for seasonal athletes such as skiers and snowboarders, whose competition season currently carries across two separate sponsorship sessions. Applications for the 2004 team are available at and will be accepted by PowerBar through the beginning of November 2003. New program members will be selected and notified by mail in January 2004.

>> Ya gotta hand it to paddlers, only they would hit the water when it’s swollen by the rain from Hurricane Isabel. The Washington Post followed David Hearn, three-time Olympic whitewater paddler and World Champion, as he scouted and then tackled the Potomac River at flood stage. He talked about the lure of the storm surge — the slug — which had the river pounding downstream at close to 200,000 cubic feet a second — faster and with greater volume than the water in the gorge below Niagara Falls. Now a coach, Hearn lives in an avid community of expert paddlers who live in the Brookmont neighborhood near the river just south of Cabin John. Arrested in January 1996 when he ran the flooded river, his case established the precedent he relied on recently: Expert kayakers alone may enter the river when the water runs so high. Luckily, Hearn made a couple of stellar runs without any mishaps. For the full story, click here

>> The Continental Divide Trail Alliance is set to tackle serious issues affecting the fate of the trail at TrailFest 2003, Oct. 11 and 12. Federal land managers are being sidetracked from projects like the Continental Divide Trail’s completion as they focus on healthy forest concerns, wildfires and decreasing staff numbers. The fifth national conference in Golden, Colo., is bringing together volunteers, land managers and supporters to participate in workshops that address issues like how to best complete the trail, increase volunteer resources and youth participation, and the long-term stewardship of the trail. Sponsored by REI and the National Forest Foundation, TrailFest will focus on developing leadership and community opportunities to supplement the shortfall. In addition to the workshops at the Golden Hotel, the CDTA will celebrate its leaders and volunteers at the CDTA Awards Dinner and Volunteer Appreciation Nite on Oct. 11 at the Buffalo Rose Restaurant.

>>Blake Findlay has joined Planet Dog as retail operations manager. He’ll provide cross-functional support for sales and service efforts, special project coordination and strategic planning initiatives, and also be responsible for managing the retail store division. Findlay previously worked for Apple Computer as retail visual manager and also brings 10 years of experience working for L.L. Bean’s retail division.

>> Deckers signed on two new licensees for men’s sportswear and headwear. Capital Mercury Apparel, a privately owned New York-based apparel maker, will design and market Teva men’s sportswear for department stores, specialty outdoor retail and sporting goods for the next three years. The company also signed a four-year license deal with Outdoor Cap Co. to produce headwear for Teva. Deckers is also looking at additional licensing opportunities for its Teva, Simple and Ugg brands.

>> Eagle Creek has promoted Michael Millenacker to vice president of sales. In his new position, he’ll head up the company’s North American sales force, spearhead new business development initiatives, and assist Eagle Creek’s action sports brand, Clive, in business development and strategic planning. Millenacker started with Eagle Creek three years ago as sales manager for the outdoor market and after just one year was promoted to director of sales. Prior to Eagle Creek, he worked at Royal Robbins as sales and marketing director.

>> Columbia Sportswear’s Rivergate Distribution Center in Oregon is bursting at its 806,000-square-foot seams, and the company is paying $40 million to build an additional center in Henderson, Ky., according to Portland’s Business Journal. In September, the Rivergate facility had a record-setting 3.54 million units going out the door, with 3.2 million units the previous month. According to company President Tim Boyle in a recent earnings call, the new 457,000-square-foot center in Kentucky will be built with a specific focus on footwear but still be flexible enough to handle other categories as needed. Most of Columbia’s product is outsourced and imported at the Port of Portland, and in ports in Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. The internal transport of products to the Kentucky facility will mean higher costs, but will ultimately save time. “There will be an increase in original transportation costs, but what’s going to happen is (we’re) going to be much closer to the retailers that do the majority of footwear sales. Seventy percent of customers will be within a two-day radius of that new distribution center,” Carl Davis, vice president and general council for Columbia, told the Business Journal. Set to break ground on Sept. 23, the Kentucky center will sit on 68 acres and employ 90 people for the first year.

>> Bell Canoe Works is tripling its square footage with the construction of a new facility starting in October. Located 10 miles north in Princeton, Minn., the new plant will incorporate all composite and Royalex manufacturing, boat and accessory warehousing, shipping and administrative functions, and should be ready for move-in by mid-December. A Bell spokesperson said the new plant will help physical growth match recent sales growth and allow the company to fully develop its rapidly growing role in the paddlesports industry. Steps to increase market presence over the past several years have included the addition of a premium accessory line and expanded touring and whitewater product offerings.

>> Team Nike ACG/Balance Bar landed their four-person kayak on Lake Tahoe’s Lakeside Beach on Sept. 10 at 2:13 a.m. PDT, winning the first-place prize of $100,000 at the Subaru Primal Quest and reinforcing their position as one of the best adventure racing teams in the world. Racing together for four days and 17 hours, the team of Ian Adamson, Mike Kloser, Danelle Ballangee and Michael Tobin rumbled through the 457-mile course. The televised coverage of the event is slated to air on CBS Jan. 10, 2004. Team GoLite/EMS finished a very respectable fifth place.

>> Britain’s Berghaus has hired two young product designers to help work on its growing collection: Dan Hutchinson has been hired as a footwear designer, and James Hodgonson as a junior equipment designer. Both are in their mid-20s.

>> Tom Beusse has been named president of Rodale’s Men’s Health and Sports Group, which includes Men’s Health, Runner’s World, Backpacker, Bicycling, Mountain Bike and Scuba.

>> Primaloft has been selected as the insulation of choice for the new Aspen/Snowmass uniform program, which is being designed by RLX for the next four years. RLX’s design team has been working with Aspen/Snowmass to develop a new uniform line specifically for ski and snowboard instructors, ski patrol, mountain operations, guest services, parks and pipes crew, powder tours, ambassadors and mountain photographers for Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk.