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>> The now very recognizable yellow “Live Strong” wristband produced by the Austin-Texas based Lance Armstrong Foundation that supports cancer research — named for the six-time winner of the Tour de France — has sold seven million bands for $1 each since May. Plans call for sales of an additional two million. Nike was the first to step up to the plate by donating $1 million to the cause that funds programs for young people with cancer, but the yellow rubbery wrist bands have taken on a life of their own. The SNEWS® team has seen them on flight attendants, trade show staff, and more in our recent travels to and from Europe, and we expect we’ll see many more in and around Outdoor Retailer.
>> Fashion will be going camping at MAGIC from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 in Las Vegas. To help a select group of contemporary streetwear, skate and surf brands stand out from the rest of the tradeshow morass, Magic is setting up a campground-themed exhibition space—inside the Las Vegas Convention Center. The brands will all be housed in a combination of vintage camping tents and travel trailers. In the middle of the campground, there will be a hospitality tent with camp snacks (we have no idea what they mean by this) and games. Campy icons (again, their words, not ours), picnic tables, lawn chairs and wildlife (what, they’re letting marauding chipmunks loose indoors?) will reportedly “enhance” the experience. This we have to see for ourselves! For more, go to www.magiconline.com.
>> Stone Age Climbing Inc., a manufacturer of artificial climbing holds, has sold its assets to Touchstone Climbing Inc., the owner of six indoor climbing and fitness clubs located on Northern California. Touchstone has moved production from Bend, Ore., to Sacramento, Calif., to place the operation in close proximity to the company’s Sacramento Pipeworks climbing gym. Touchstone will continue to produce handholds for sale to climbing gyms, institutions, and the public in addition to supplying its full-time course setting crew with many of its holds. Touchstone operates Mission Cliffs, Berkeley Ironworks, Class 5, Sacramento Pipeworks, Touchstone Concord, and Touchstone San Jose, which are indoor climbing and fitness clubs. For more information, click on either www.stoneageclimbing.com or www.touchstoneclimbing.com.
>> The National Retail Federation sent out a press release announcing the 2004 Top 100 Specialty Retailers ranking sponsored by Alliance Data Systems, and published by Stores magazine, the official publication of the NRF. The report is an annual snapshot of the specialty retailing industry, ranking companies by revenues, and grouping them on one chart regardless of the merchandise categories in which they operate. In scanning the list, we weren’t surprised by The Sports Authority in the 36th position with $1.76 billion in sales, or Dick’s at $1.47 billion occupying the 49th position. And, yes, there was L.L. Bean in the 61st slot at $1.2 billion, and Big 5 with an 82nd ranking and $709 million in sales. Funny to see Galyan’s with $690 million in sales grabbing the 85th spot considering it recently went to Dick’s, but then that is the risk of the publishing business — you publish something weeks ago and, bang, it’s out of date. Frankly, the list was fairly predicable, save for one glaring omission — isn’t REI worth a mention with over $700 million in sales in 2003? SNEWS® View: We called the NRF and no one there had an answer. At least they knew who REI was. Wonder who else significant might be missing? Certainly does call into question the accuracy of the data.
>> PR efforts run amok — Granted we have to acknowledge that the PR team for VisaEndurance, an activewear performance fabric that reportedly provides long-lasting odor-control and moisture management, was really trying to think out of the box when it came out with its pre-show announcement. However, in this case, we think it may have to find that same box to hide under. We received the following notification from the company: “‘Hiker Bob’ & ‘Hiker Bobbi’ from the Consumer Campaign will be walking around the OR Show floor dressed as backpackers who have been out for a long weekend and aren’t as fresh as they might want to be. They will be covered in tree air fresheners, carrying hiking sticks with the VisaEndurance Booth number information on it and wearing Tilley hats that say ‘Hiker Bob’ and ‘Hiker Bobbi’. They will be searching for retailer name badges and directing them to the VisaEndurance booth.” Ummm… silliness of this magnitude might work at say, MAGIC (see above), but relying on this approach at a show for an industry that prides itself on a level of authenticity and core values may leave the folks playing Hiker Bob and Hiker Bobbi getting harassed and feeling just about as welcome as a special edition Barbie and Ken camping set — oh, wait, we forgot, Barbie dumped Ken for a young surfer dude.
>> As of July, Indigo Equipment informed SNEWS® that the company’s spring/summer customers are retail shops outside of traditional winter markets. The company got its start only two years ago by introducing several categories of winter-specific gear. In the past six months, Indigo has added 25 new independent retailers and over 60 new retail locations to its dealer network. More than 35 of those stores are in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic and Northwest − areas where winter-sports products are not the primary focus. In 2004 Indigo added new sales reps in the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, Rockies and Southeast territories and the increase sales focus in those territories is bearing fruit. Indigo products are distributed in nine countries in three continents, including 148 specialty outdoor retailers in North America currently selling from nearly 200 store locations.
>> Ibex Outdoor Clothing Inc. has announced the company will be awarded the American Alpine Institute (AAI) Guides Choice Award during a special presentation at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this August. The Ibex Woolies Rib Top and Woolies Rib Bottoms are being credited, we’re told, by Alpine guides as the base layers of choice for excellent temperature regulation, durability, next-to-skin comfort, and easy care. The AAI Guide’s Choice Award is given annually, making comparative and individual evaluations of equipment and clothing used in mountaineering, rock, and expedition climbing through field tests that the AAI conducts in a wide range of environments throughout the world. Testers are the professional guides of the Institute, and evaluations are made throughout the year in desert, cold weather, rain, snow, high wind, and high altitude environments. Other winners include Mammut ropes, Schoeller fabrics, and Valandre down sleeping bags.
>> Mountain Sports, a mainstay since 1958 to the local, but now so overcrowded outdoor retail market in Boulder, Colo., is up for sale. Annual sales are reportedly in the $1.7 million to $1.8 million range. Click here to read the story about the sale published in the Daily Camera.
>> Funds advised by Apax Partners have acquired ski wear manufacturer Spyder Inc. for $100 million. Apax Partners’ funds has been investing heavily in the U.S. retail and consumer sector over the past 18 months, including a $375 million investment in Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation to enable its acquisition of Calvin Klein, plus in the second- quarter IPO of Life Time Fitness, a growing operator of health and fitness centers in the midwest; and in the sale of Greenbacks Inc. to Dollar Tree Stores Inc., the nation’s leading operator of single-price point dollar stores.
>> Black Diamond Equipment Ltd., will be welcoming the third annual HERA Ovarian Cancer Climb for Life, to its corporate campus September 16 to 19. A fundraiser, event proceeds will benefit research for early detection and new directions in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Past grants have been awarded to scientists at Johns Hopkins and MD Anderson Cancer Center. Since its inception in 2001, HERA has grown considerably and now encompasses several satellite events, which enable women and men around the country to be involved with the Climb for Life. This year’s events take place in the Tetons and Las Vegas as well as on the road with the second annual REI Road Tour and the Hundred for HERA mission.. The HERA (Health, Empowerment, Research & Advocacy) Foundation is a registered 501 (c) 3. For more information click on www.ovariancancer.jhmi.edu/climb.
>> American Wave International, (AWI) manufacturer of wetsuits, sports protection gear, accessories and more, has moved its headquarters from California to Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho. The new address is 606 West River Rd, Coeur d’ Alene, ID 83814. The company sells to customers worldwide over the Internet and wholesale to retail stores and team dealers around the world. For more information, click on www.americanwave.com.
>> CamelBak has hired Jim Mahoney as senior vice president of operations. Mahoney will work with the recreational, military and industrial divisions of CamelBak. He will be responsible for all activities related to the flow of CamelBak products from manufacturing through distribution, including quality control, manufacturing, engineering, factory facilities, purchasing, production scheduling and distribution. Mahoney is leaving Mission Hockey, where had been chief operations officer since 1998.