REI announced its 2002 Vendor Partnership Awards at Outdoor Retailer Winter Market. The annual awards program recognizes three key vendors and one overall Vendor Partner of the Year for efforts that have built a strategic and successful relationship with REI. REI’s three merchandising divisions — Camping/Travel, Action Sports and Outdoorwear — each nominated companies based on several measures, including financial performance, community and industry involvement, and product quality. The nominees are reviewed by REI’s retail stores, and the stores then vote to determine the final award recipients.
The top 2002 vote recipient was Smith Sport Optics, Inc., earning the REI Vendor Partner of the Year Award. For REI, Smith goggles realized a 45 percent increase in sales in 2002. Overall, including sunglasses and goggles, Smith demonstrated an overall 23.9 percent increase in business for REI.
Black Diamond earned top honors in the Camping/Travel division as a result of phenomenal sales numbers for the company’s headlamps. Consider that Black Diamond just began producing headlamps two years ago, REI was amazed when in 2002, the headlamps sold five times more than its forecast. Headlamp sales realized a 219 percent increase from the previous year. While SNEWS has promised not to divulge the number sold, we promise you that it’s stunning!
Action Sports division winner, Thule, turned heads with a 34 percent sales increase. Most notable were the number of car top boxes sold, which again, we promised REI we wouldn’t divulge — although in every category of car racks sold, Thule racked up (sorry) double digit increases.
In the Outdoorwear division Superfeet wowed REI by becoming the number one single style sold in the entire footwear department. That increase represented a 23 percent jump above 2001 and a 40 percent leap over 2000. Trust us when we say, the number REI sold puts real meaning into the word “super.”
Other nominees for award consideration this year included Brunton, Columbia Sportswear Co., Ex Officio Inc., Merrell, Mountain Hardwear, Mountainsmith, Oregon Freeze Dry Inc., Patagonia, prAna, Seattle Sports Co. and The North Face.