Get access to everything we publish when you sign up for Outside+.
After rumblings of an uncertain future, Denali announced last Tuesday that its closing all seven locations. A “going out of business” sale at the Old Saybrook location signals the store’s end.
More than 25 years ago, the first store opened as Trailblazer in New Haven and grew to seven stores in Connecticut and Rhode Island. Last year, it rebranded to Denali. Then in May, word spread among insiders about the company’s months-long restructuring.
But sometime during the shakeup, leadership decided they “could not find a responsible path forward,” they told customers in a letter dominating its website.
Patagonia confirmed that it has taken over Denali’s original New Haven location, but declined to comment further. A request for comment from Denali went unanswered.
The closure is sad news to Mike Schmidt, rep principal in the northeast for Velocity Sales & Marketing. He said Denali helped grow brands and employees, and the teams fostered deep bonds with customers and industry contacts alike.
“Curated specialty retail assortments, community involvement, industry involvement and progressive staff training programs where always part of their best corporate practices,” Schmidt said. “They helped develop and teach several generations of retail professionals and those lessons will live on in the employees that take those practices forward and the community programs facilitated through The Denali Foundation.”
Allison Frazier, general manager of Vermont-based Stoner//Andrews, with sales reps who have worked with Denali since its start, said similarly that the company’s identity was defined by social responsibility, from the brands they worked with to how they built their stores with locally-harvested materials. She said that in this multi-channel retail environment, maybe doing too much too quickly led to their demise.
“It’s not going to be the same going to trade shows and not seeing their whole team,” Frazier said.
Read the complete blog post from Denali, in wake of its closing:
Dear Loyal Customers,
After 25 years in business, it is with a heavy heart that we relay the news that Denali will be closing its doors for good. This was an extremely difficult decision, but after months of trying we sadly could not find a responsible path forward.
Thank you to all of our wonderful customers with whom we formed deep bonds over the years. It was the day to day interaction with you that made this journey worthwhile. We would also like to thank our employees for all of their hard work, dedication and friendship.
What began in the early nineties as Trailblazer in New Haven grew to encompass seven stores in two states. It was an honor to serve our local outdoor and athletic communities as well as to support local environmental and youth organizations with The Denali Foundation. We are very proud of what we accomplished and we hope we provided our communities with lasting memories and inspiration.
Beginning July 2nd we will host a store closing sale at our Old Saybrook location. Between now and when we close you may redeem gift cards at our Old Saybrook location only.
Thank you all for your decades of loyalty and support.
The Denali & Trailblazer Team
Grassroots’ reaction to one of its own shutting down
“This is tough news for everyone involved,” said Rich Hill, president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, of which Denali was a member. “Restructuring is an incredible challenge that many businesses, including Grassroots member retailers, have to face. We have great appreciation for all the work that the team at Denali put into Grassroots, and they will be missed. They have been a positive and important voice in making our community what it is today.”