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>> Canadian outdoor adventurer extraordinaire Will Gadd flew into the record books by flying rim-to-rim across the Grand Canyon in his paraglider. Gadd launched 15 miles southwest of Grand Canyon Village using a truck-mounted tow system. After riding thermals to an altitude of 17,900 feet, he glided across the 10-mile distance of the Canyon in what Gadd termed “absolutely the wildest flight I’ve ever had.” During his flight, Gadd experienced violent swirling winds, strong updrafts and downdrafts, and near-freezing temperatures. After flying for three hours at an average speed of 35 mph, Gadd touched down in a meadow approximately 10 miles north of Jacob Lake, near the North Rim of the Canyon.
>> Canada Goose has opened the company’s state-of-the-art sales, manufacturing and distribution center in Toronto, Ontario. By mid 2005, Canada Goose expects to increase production by 30 percent. The 42,000-square-foot site also includes an open concept showroom that showcases the company’s entire line of outerwear. Canada Goose is a 45-year-old, privately-owned Canadian company that manufactures cold-weather outerwear — www.canada-goose.com.
>> Big City Mountaineers (BCM), a volunteer-led recreational mentoring program for at-risk teens, will launch its first regional expansion from summer to year-round programming in the San Francisco Bay area thanks to a $21,125 grant from REI. Sixty-five at risk teens who participated in summer 2004 BCM-organized mentoring trips will now have the opportunity to continue their relationships with BCM adult leaders through other outdoor recreational activities such as canoeing, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, snowshoeing and hiking over the next year. REI’s grant to BCM is part of the retailer’s $2 million annual commitment to give back to communities in which the company has store locations.
>> Las Vegas convention goers and organizers can breathe — sort of. Successful negotiations between convention service contractors, the Freeman Companies and GES Exposition Services, and Teamsters Local 631 have resulted in a new three-year agreement ensuring the continuation of appropriate levels of labor for the Las Vegas convention industry. The new contract was officially ratified by a majority vote of the Teamsters, held Sept. 11. It replaces a prior agreement that expired in May 2004, with an extension that had expired June 30. While negotiations had taken place since March 2004, things got testy beginning on Sept. 4 when members of Teamsters Local 631 rejected a contract offer from Freeman and GES and opted to strike just as Las Vegas’ trade show industry entered its busy fall season. In fact, union workers walked out of the Las Vegas Convention Center during the break down of the MAGIC apparel trade show, a convention that draws several thousand exhibitors and 90,000 attendees. Final negotiations resumed on Sept. 9. SNEWS® View: Operating a convention, and being an exhibitor in Las Vegas just got much more expensive for all. Thank goodness, Outdoor Retailer remains in Salt Lake!
>> The New England sporting goods market is about to get more crowded than seems logical. Modell’s (www.modells.com), a sporting goods chain that operates 110 stores in the mid-Atlantic region, is looking to open three stores in the Boston area, locals told SNEWS® as evidenced by advertising for store employees recently. Rumor also has it the retailer is exploring other store openings for 2005 in the north-Boston area and perhaps New Hampshire. Modell’s does sell camping gear, primarily targeting the hunting market, from brands such as Wenzel, Texsport, Oregon Scientific, JanSport, High Sierra, etc.
>> Demetri Coupounas, a 38-year-old Boston native and president of GoLite, has been on a lightweight adventure crusade of late to promote a category of adventure he’s dubbed Alpine Style Thru-Hiking. The latest notch in his belt from a summer that will not end was made when he completed the 273-mile Long Trail entirely un-resupplied on Aug. 31. Total elapsed time on the trail was 12 days, 19 hours, 53 minutes. The completion of the Long Trail marked the second of three un-resupplied long distance trails for Coup. He hiked the length of the 218-mile (including approach trails) John Muir Trail in July 2004 with no re-supply. Coup said he hopes his efforts will highlight how easy it is for users of lightweight gear to cover far greater distances without re-supply and how easy it is for the average American to go outdoors to begin with, important, he says, in a nation plagued by epidemic levels of inactivity and obesity. Coup began his attempt on the third of three unsupported hikes of America on Sept. 11, heading off on the 470-mile Colorado Trail. Coup expects to complete the trek in 21 days. Coup also has a request: That industry members as well as consumers make contributions to Big City Mountaineers at www.golite.com in support of an organization that encourages teens to break down their personal barriers and seek opportunity through experiences outdoors.
>> SIA has developed a new digital tool, Consumer Communication Resource (CCR), which allows members and retailers to tap into the world of email marketing. SIA has created CCR as a turnkey solution to provide the industry with an easy-to-use email collection and message distribution system. According to SIA, it is as simple as linking a company or store site to SIA’s CCR and begin collecting email addresses and rich consumer data, and then sending email messages to the database of consumers through SIA’s secure server. This program is free to SIA members and industry retailers.
>> Snowshoe Magazine has gone online at www.SnowshoeMag.com and is hoping it will generate sufficient interest to be able to launch a print publication within three years. According to the release, the online magazine is targeting three kinds of readers: racers/ competitors, backcountry enthusiasts/casual hikers, and beginners/first-timers. It also plans to provide original content on destinations, equipment, health/fitness, races and tours, and environmental protection. Snowshoe Magazine is endorsed by the U.S. Snowshoe Association (www.SnowshoeRacing.com) and is a wholly owned and operated product of Alford Publishing, Inc., based in Denver, Colo. SNEWS® View: Telling everyone you are going to launch a part of your business that is not yet reality in, say three years, is a bit like going fishing with a rod but no reel or bait. What’s the point? And while the website looks nice, we have to wonder how the content will differ from national niche publications such as Adventure Sports, Trail Runner or a host of other regional publications that already cover snowshoeing in season and quite well.
>> Norma Hansen, the vice president of member services of the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), has been named the director of sales administration for SmartWool. Hansen will be based in SmartWool’s Steamboat Springs, Colo., headquarters, beginning Oct. 25. She will report directly to SmartWool’s president, Chip Coe, and will be responsible for working with the SmartWool management team to develop and implement SmartWool’s sales planning and support processes, making sure that the needs and interests of the sales team and dealers are well represented in all SmartWool business processes.
>> High Sierra Sport Company, based in Vernon Hills, Ill., is donating 500 backpacks, duffle/gym bags and luggage pieces to youth in state care under the direction of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). According to DCFS, foster parents are given about $20 for items that are typically not covered by the monthly reimbursements that DCFS provides to meet the basic needs of children in its care. This leaves many foster parents grappling with how to finance incidental expenses such as back-to-school shopping and other events that are important in a child’s life. High Sierra’s donation will be distributed to six DCFS regions. In addition, luggage will be sent to youth in college, youth scholarship recipients and children at the Department’s Emergency Reception Center who are waiting to be placed in foster care. High Sierra and DCFS are urging others to come forward to contribute in-kind and monetary donations for children in need. To make donations for children in Illinois DCFS care, contact the Springfield Communications Office at 217-785-1700.
>> Jill Pagliaro is leaving her position as director of public relations for The North Face to join Stanwood & Partners. She will remain in San Francisco, working on Stanwood’s Camelbak account and establishing a SF office for Stanwood.
>> Ryders Eyewear has hired Mitch Heiner as the company’s U.S. sales manager. Heiner will be managing all sales responsibilities in existing markets as well as seeking to expand the brand into new market areas. He will be based in Misson Viejo, Calif. Heiner was most recently the sales manager for the Rx division of Oakley.
>> Gareth Edwards is back with Outdoor Prolink. SNEWS® received the following from the wild Welshman, “Lowe Alpine was recently acquired by Asolo and subsequently moved the Colorado operations to central New Hampshire. I thought about moving with Lowe for a couple of seconds and decided that it would be best if I stayed in Colorado and invested my time and energy into a new venture. I just launched www.outdoorprolink.com once again and I am 110 percent committed to making it work this time around. For those of you who don’t remember, Outdoor Prolink is an Internet based pro-purchase website which allows qualified outdoor professionals to gain access to many different brands across many different activities. I’m hoping to “flip the switch” on the 15th September with a couple of brands closely followed by a few more coming on board every couple of weeks.” Folks interested in becoming buying members of www.Outdoorprolink.com need to go online and complete the application.
>> Russell Corp. has named Robert Koney chief financial officer responsible for all corporate financial areas and investor relations. Koney joins the company from Goodrich Corp. and will start Sept. 15.