For the week of June 1-6
>> Lowa received a nice surprise when it snapped open the June 5 edition of The New York Times and found that famed designer Diane Von Furstenberg — the inventor of the wrap dress in the ’70s — was a purveyor of hiking boots, or more specifically its boots. Despite living the jet-set life and formerly married to a prince, Furstenberg said her favorite escape vehicle into the outdoors is a pair of Lowa’s Klondike Mid GTX LS II. She has hiked in South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Africa, and said she values the sturdy reinforcement around her foot and ankle. Tidbits she picks up on her hiking expeditions — leaves, sticks and shells — offers inspiration for new fabric designs she invents, she added.
>> According to the results of the May NRF Retail Executive Opinion Survey, customer traffic for May continued to read below normal. Retailers cited weak sales and traffic as the primary reason the Retail Sector Performance Index (RSPI) for May posted a marginal increase of 53.6, compared to 50.5 from the previous month. Although sales (46.4) and traffic (39.3) for the month of May were below normal, the average transaction size per customer was very healthy with a reading of 64.3, 11.5 points higher than the previous month. Retail Operations continue to be a bright spot for the industry as the Operations Index remained above normal with a reading of 53.6 points, a slight decrease from April’s reading of 54.2. With the weather becoming more seasonal and word that gas prices will continue to drop during the summer, retailers are looking at the future performance of the industry with increased optimism, the NRF said. The Demand Outlook, which is a six-month ahead sales outlook, rose 4.3 points in May from a month ago to 57.1. The NRF Executive Opinion Survey gauges the state of the U.S. retail industry and is used to gather the opinions of the industry’s top executives on trends in merchandising, hiring, sales expectations, customer traffic and special seasonal-related developments. www.nrf.com.
>> Horny Toad says it’s found the right fit up North and has signed on F3 Distribution as its Canadian brand partner. As a key component of the Horny Toad partnership, F3 Distribution will secure new brand affiliations in Canada, which echo those developed by Horny Toad in the U.S. market. Known for creativity, expertise and energy, F3 Distribution, Momentum Group’s latest outdoor active subsidiary, was founded in 2002 in Montreal, Quebec. F3 Distribution is run by Pierre Vermette, and has a track record in the cycling, running, outdoor active and snowsports industry with an emphasis on specialty retailer distribution. It also handles Pearl Izumi, Karhu skis and Tifosi optics.
>> Swedish expeditioner Renata Chlumska is preparing to launch a self-supported, self-propelled solo circumnavigation of the continental United States — an impressive 11,200 miles — via kayak, bike, skate and foot. Starting July 4 in Seattle, the trek will take approximately 480 days to complete and go through 32 states. Chlumska plans to paddle from Seattle to the Mexican border, bike across the desert to the Rio Grande with her kayak and gear in tow, paddle through the Gulf of Mexico around the Florida Keys, head north to the tip of Maine, bike and paddle inland to the Great Lakes then bike, hike and skate along the Canadian border back to Seattle. It’s the first time a self-propelled continental U.S. circumnavigation has been attempted, according to Chlumska. Originally the trip was intended to be a two-person expedition with Chlumska and her fiancée, adventurer and mountaineer Goran Kropp. Tragically, in September 2002, Kropp was killed in a climbing accident in Washington state, but Chlumska decided to pursue the trip on her own. An accomplished adventurer, she was the first Swedish woman to climb above 26,000 feet to Tibet’s Mt. Shishapangma Central Summit and the first to climb Mt. Everest. Chlumska is sponsored by Helly Hansen, Energizer, Primus, Mandator, Prijon, Hilleberg, Magellan, adidas eyewear and others. For more information on the expedition, visit www.renatachlumska.com.
>> Ten years after its inception, online retailing is growing up fast. According to “The State of Retailing Online 8.0,” an annual Shop.org study conducted by Forrester Research of 137 retailers, 2004 online sales rose 23.8 percent to $141.4 billion. Excluding travel, online retail sales also rose 23.8 percent to $89.0 billion, representing 4.6 percent of total retail sales. The report predicts that online sales (including travel) will rise 22.0 percent to $172.4 billion this year. Sales excluding travel are expected to reach $109.6 billion.
>> During the week of May 14, more than 330 cleanups happened nationwide for the 14th annual National River Cleanup Week. David Brown, board chair for the event, said many outdoor industry companies led the effort, including Thule, Lotus/Patagonia and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Twenty employees from Thule’s headquarters cleaned up the Naugatuck River near its Seymour, Conn., headquarters, filling a dumpster in just a few hours. Patagonia reps Christie Dobson, Ambassador Willie Kern and Hudson River Outfitters’ staff cleaned the banks and parking lot of the Black River in Waterton, N.Y. Green Mountain had 76 employees out in Waterbury, Vt., and they collected 3.1 tons of metal, 15 cubic yards of trash and 110 tires. Other sponsors of the event included America Outdoors, Extrasport, Old Town, Wilderness Systems, the BLM, Bureau of Reclamation and USDA Forest Service. www.nationalrivercleanup.com
>> American Joe Lawson started on a journey this month not only to climb the world’s highest peaks but also focus attention on the need for greater depression awareness, treatment and support. As a teenager, Lawson’s father committed suicide after a long battle with depression, and in honor of his memory, he formed Expedition Hope, with the goal of preventing similar tragedies. With the help of Eli Lilly and Company, he’ll start in North America with Alaska’s Mt. McKinley, with the ultimate goal of climbing the remaining six 8,000-meter summits. Lawson will chronicle his climb at www.ExpeditionHope.org , where people also can learn more about depression and how they can support programs that help those with mental illness. Lawson is an experienced mountain climber with previous involvement in the Discovery Channel Eco-Challenge adventure race events and several adventure travel companies.
>> A new study found that most American consumers don’t realize Internet merchants and even traditional retailers sometimes charge different prices to different customers for the same products. A survey of 1,500 adults, called “Open to Exploitation,” found nearly two-thirds of adult Internet users believed incorrectly it was illegal to charge different people different prices, a practice retailers call “price customization.” The study, released by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, also said 87 percent of people strongly objected to the practice of online stores charging people different prices for the same products based on information collected about their shopping habits. The Web lets shoppers easily compare prices, but it also enables businesses to quietly collect detailed records on a customer’s behavior and preferences and set prices accordingly. Doing so is generally lawful unless it discriminates against race or gender or violates antitrust or price-fixing laws. By using this information, online sites try to retain loyal customers, while discouraging bargain hunters who check many sites for the lowest price. First-time buyers at a retailer could see higher prices than a repeat customer. However, retailers may not offer discounts to repeat shoppers who buy the same brands regularly without even looking at alternatives on the site. The study was based on a Feb. 8 to March 4 phone survey of 1,500 adults who said they had used the Internet within the past 30 days. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percent.
>> EN-R-G Foods, manufacturer of Honey Stinger energy bars and gel, recently hired Adam Spector as national sales manager. Spector spent several years managing sales for Dermatone in the bike, outdoor and ski categories. He’s already hired sales rep group Hoyt & Company to sell Honey Stinger to specialty outdoor accounts in the Rockies. The group is comprised of Patrick Hoyt, Sam Hoyt and Michelle Rampelt, who will cover Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming.
>> Pale Morning Media has hired Scott Kaier on as a full-time staffer. Previously a buyer for Onion River Sports, a year-round specialty outdoor retailer in Vermont, Kaier began working with Pale Morning Media on a project basis in fall of 2004. He’s available at 802-583-6070 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Pale Morning Media is a public relations firm and its clients include Kelty, Horny Toad, Smith Action Optics and Fly-Fishing Retailer World Expo.
>> Paper piled high on your desk? Email overload on your computer? NFI Research found in a recent poll that 82 percent of senior executives and managers won’t be taking all their vacation time this year citing overall work demands. Workload and pressing projects are the second and third reasons, respectively. Research also found when it comes to managers’ own personal reasons not to take a break, the same three reasons were listed, with 65 percent giving overall work demands as a reason. More managers (58 percent) than senior executives (46 percent) list workload as a reason they do not take all the vacation time they are entitled to, while 28 percent of senior executives cite business travel compared to the 19 percent of managers. While respondent noted that “you’re either aggressively moving forward, or on vacation and someone else is moving in on your place,” another had a much healthier view: “I am a 55-year-old CEO with five weeks annual leave. I took my first ever two-consecutive week vacation three years ago and it was the best thing I ever did for myself and my family. This year, I am taking three weeks. I work with a lot of Europeans and unlike Americans they do not link their personal identity to their jobs. By and large I think executives think they need to set an example in this area and they are setting the wrong one. Revitalized employees are more productive, more fun, and healthier.” NFI Research (www.nfiresearch.com) is a U.S.-based research firm that identifies and analyzes trends and attitudes in business and organizational management.
>> Robert “Bo” Hitchcock has joined Woolrich as a field sales rep, covering Alabama, Florida, Georgia and the Caribbean. Prior to joining Woolrich, Hitchcock was a principle with Bill Ciaccia and Associates Sales Agency. He was most recently an executive with GoFit LLC. He has also managed retail business at the Sports Authority and Things Remembered.