Friday, November 20, 2009

Tahoe SUP boards

Standup paddling is a little like Facebook. It's gone from "huh? What are those kids doing now" to "wow, look how cool I am trying something new" to a mainstream thing that everybody's doing. And the hottest part of Standup is the touring, flatwater board style that's being led by Tahoe Boardworks.

Happy Paddlin' with a Dog!

Starting with the speedy Zephyr that's been winning races and turning heads, to the gorgeous Woody that looks like it should be in a gallery, to the durable, not-so-pricey, carbonlite-skin Rubicon crafted by the thermoform masters at Eddyline Kayaks, Tahoe took off in 2009 and made a big footprint in this growing market. New for 2010 will be the Grom kids' board, and the Bliss for the ladies. Along with the hottest boards, Tahoe's paddles and accessories fill out the selection of goodies that go along with this great line of gear.

Washington's first Tahoe dealer, Chris Fry (R) of West Bay Paddleboards in Olympia, joins Doug Erwin (L) from Tahoe and Bryon Dorr from Next Adventure on the Cowlitz River. Yes you can do it on moving water!

Dealers benefit from low minimum orders, sweet deals & long dating on demo boards, and reasonable shipping rates. Paddlers dig the speedy, stable ride... and being part of this big hot wonderful thing to do on the water. Don't miss it!

Happy Paddlin', even on his head... Ethan thrills the fans.

Rec Repair or The Hippo Patch?

The potential for breakage and field repairs to your gear can pose a dilemma... what patch stuff to carry, how much to carry, how expensive is it, what kind of repair to be ready for. Ruby Creek represents a couple of awesome solutions. Check em out.

Here's a quick, permanent repair that stays flexible and waterproof and never cracks when you apply it to neoprene, plastic, canvas, nylon, glass, wood, even concrete. and doesn't cost much. The Hippo Patch comes packaged in six easy-to-display sizes from 2"x24" strips, to 4"x24 foot rolls. Easily cut with scissors or a knife, it adheres to nearly any clean surface and can even be applied underwater.
This is the 4"x24" patch material, folded up for easy display. Maybe I could use it on those wrinkles in my hand.
Ruby Creek is proud to be the Washington representative for this innovative stuff. Grab a pack of Hippo Patch for your dry bag, one for your backpack, one for your tool box. If your favorite outdoor shop doesn't carry the Hippo Patch, give them a link to this page and let them know we'd be happy to help them.

Hippo Patch dealers love the strong margins, attention-grabbing display, low inventory investment to get started, and convenient, easy-to-order multipack cartons. Users dig the low-cost means to get their repair done quickly and get back to whatever they really want to spend their day doing.

If a field repair needs structure -- a tent pole, kayak paddle, cooler, or a big crack in your boat -- go for Rec Repair patches. They are simply heated with a heat gun, or over a fire or cookstove and shaped to the material being repaired. To avoid wondering whether it's hot enough, paddlers & backpackers can carry Rec Repair's Emergency Kit with a chemical heater included.

Here's the 4x6 RecRepair patch, ready to display in your shop.

Here's the RecRepair emergency kits with a chemical heater included.

Rec Repair comes in black or white, in 4 packaged, precut sizes, bulk patch cut to order, and even keel strip and skid plate material for canoes and kayaks. Dealers can get going with a starter kit that contains a little of everything, then fill in as needed to replace their big selling items.

These are terrific additions to any retail shop's product lines. Ruby Creek has dealer applications and order forms right here at World HQ, just waiting for you.

Costa del Mar shades!

Along with making the best shades out there, Costa del Mar finds time to document the decades-long fight over a highway proposed to cut through a wild Alaskan wilderness.

The heritage of this awesome sunglass line lies with a band of hard-core
offshore fishing outfitters in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. Along with sunscreen and a nose for the big one, a durable, dependable pair of shades is essential for this lifestyle. So today, Costa offers a 100% polarized, lifetime-guaranteed line of some 50+ frame styles, multiple lens choices, stainless steel hinges that don't rust or corrode, and innovative nose & ear pieces that actually get grabbier on your skin when you sweat.

Take a look at the whole product line.

Customers say things like... "Whoa. Check out the fish... I never knew I could see in the water like that". "Look at the colors, man!" and best of all, to paraphrase Will Smith in Independence Day... "I GOT to get me some of these!"

Dealers say they love the margins, the quality of the product, and the excellent returns they get from a small footprint of real estate in their shops. Orders start as small as just a few pairs.

From the stylish, light-as-a-feather Ballast to the tough as nails Zane, your only dilemma will be which style you like best.

Ruby Creek has a good stock of samples so you can see for yourself just what it's all about. Just be sure to invite me out on a sunny day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Crescent Moon Snowshoes

It's all about the fit, the easy single-pull binding... and a host of other great stuff.

Time for some winter adventure!

It's a long way from paddlesports, but when you're on water, even if it's
frozen, it's all related. And for most of us, GREEN matters, whether the
water is white or blue.

What's so special about Crescent Moon?

Well first, you get to go to their web site and meet founder Jake Thamm in person.

Snowshoers enjoy the unique, comfortable, easy-fitting single-pull binding -
the sweet feel of the teardrop shape - the green manufacturing process
that's powered by wind, uses no PVC parts and recycles all their waste - and
knowing the smiling US work force is building their shoes in Boulder CO.

Dealers dig the great margins, top-notch customer service and the logical,
easy-to-understand model and price structure that makes it easy to train
sales staff on the bennies of the brand.

Want to be a dealer? Talk to Ruby Creek about a dealer app. We'd love to
show you some samples.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

SKU Rationalization Hitting Outdoor Specialty Channel

Here's an article passed on from the Outdoor Industry Association News by Gregg Gunderman at AquaBound-Bending Branches. The point -- in today's economy, pick what works, commit to it, go narrow & deep with your sku selection, and by all means do NOT confuse the customer with too many choices. All good advice. Thanks Gregg for passing this along.


SKU Rationalization Hitting Outdoor Specialty Channel

After years of assaulting shoppers with a growing array of SKUs, retailers are reigning in their product offerings and outdoor specialty retailers are no exception.

In a recent conference call, Costco told security analysts it had reduced its average store SKU count by 150 to 200, although much of it came from tobacco. Target has consolidated multiple private label sub-brands in its home furnishings area into a single brand. “We are editing the assortment and reducing SKU count to allow for cleaner presentation and to more clearly communicate the strength of this brand to our guests,” the company told security analysts earlier this year. Dick’s Sporting Goods reported this spring that they were dialing in their model stock and letting tertiary brands and SKUs go.

The SKU rationalization is part of the broader shift away from new store openings and toward improving operations at existing stores. In some instances, this allows retailers to secure better shipping rates and other volume discounts from remaining vendors

“We’ve stepped back from opening stores and are focusing more on comprehensive financial management of existing stores,” said Frank Pitts, franchise development manager for Fleet Feet, which has franchised about 90 stores nationwide, including just one new store this year. “We suggest they are better off going narrow and deep. That is part of our financial management advice.“

San Diego-based regional chain Adventure 16 has reduced its SKU count by about 5 percent for the upcoming holiday season, said CEO John Mead. “There will be more accessories, but a tighter more focused gift selection and many less lifestyle shoes.”

In Minneapolis, Midwest Mountaineering has reduced SKUs in camping by reducing the number of brands offered for some items from four or five to two or three, said owner Rod Johnson. The retailer has left apparel relatively untouched and increased its footwear SKUs.

The biggest SKU cut has come in paddlesports, where Midwest Mountaineering has eliminated some pricier kevlar and fiberglass boats most impacted by the recession. “We still have 130 boat models, so the choice is still overwhelming,” said Johnson.

Like Target, Eastern Mountain Sports trimmed back SKUs for its EMS brand in a move that actually enhanced EMS brand penetration in top categories.

The trimming at retail and tight credit markets are prompting manufacturers to rightsize their own operations. Johnson Outdoors, for instance, has been working to reduce SKU counts across the company by 20 percent as part of an aggressive cost-cutting program.

At The Alpine Store in St. Louis, MO, co-owner Lisa Hollenbeck is now concerned she may have cut SKUs too deeply as part of a 20 percent reduction in inventory from the fourth quarter last year. The retailer pulled back on color selection in women’s rainwear and eliminated duplication in several categories, while adding to its selection of gift socks.

SKU rationalization may seem counterintuitive at a time when consumers can go online and find exactly what they want. But it may already be bearing fruit. In the last week, U.S. news wires have carried several stories warning consumers that they will find less to choose from on store shelves this holiday season. That could motivate consumers to shop early and prevent a repeat of last year’s panic discounting by retailers.

Regardless, many in retail wonder if consumers are suffering brand fatigue.

“If you are offering everything out there, you are probably doing a disservice to the consumer,” said Dan Mann, a retail consultant. “If you offer me the same product across five different brands, that’s just confusing.”

Mann said he is questioning the “good, better, best” model of retailing. Perhaps specialty retailers should concede the low end of the market to mass and focus on better and best.

“I'd like us to go deeper with some of things we are committed to,” he said of outdoor retailers. “Don't confuse the customer with 17 other choices.”

If you are offering everything out there, you are probably doing a disservice to the consumer,” said Dan Mann, a retail consultant. “If you offer me the same product across five different brands, that’s just confusing.”

Mann said he is questioning the “good, better, best” model of retailing. Perhaps specialty retailers should concede the low end of the market to mass and focus on better and best.

“I'd like us to go deeper with some of things we are committed to,” he said of outdoor retailers. “Don't confuse the customer with 17 other choices.”

Monday, November 16, 2009

Alki Kayak Tours to open new location!

That sign's coming down... soon to say "Mountain to Sound Outfitters"

Congratulations are due to Greg and Kara Whitaker, our friends at Alki Kayak Tours in Seattle, for taking the big plunge and opening a retail location in their home neighborhood of West Seattle, to augment the success of their beachfront rental operation on Harbor Avenue. Grand Opening is Friday, November 27th. Hope you can make it!

Psssstt.. top secret new exterior color. Won't be a secret long.

Operating under the new name of Mountain to Sound Outfitters, Greg says the shop will leverage our seasonal outdoor life in the winter as they emphasize snow sports sales, rentals, and tuning, with plenty of resources available for paddlers as well. When Spring comes, it’s full-on paddling. Come visit any time!

The new shop is at 3602 SW Alaska Street, just West of 35th Ave SW. It’s convenient for anyone residing, visiting, or just passing through West Seattle on the way to the ferry. Evidently Greg and Kara, who are also expecting their first baby in the Spring, decided to get all the big steps in life out of the way at once.

These pictures were taken just a few weeks before the scheduled opening on November 15th. That’s a lot of work to do, and everyone who knows anything about this operation knows it couldn’t happen without the butt-busting efforts of Alki crew like Avery, pictured here proudly dodging incoming shipments of skis, rental boots, and of course the very first kayak in the new inventory – an Emotion Glide. Good luck to this first-class bunch. You guys rock!

Presentation 11/20/09 in Anacortes: 1400 miles by kayak

The Inside Passage -- 1400 solo miles by kayak

Please join Darrell Gardner of the Under Human Power expedition on Friday, November 20th at Village Pizza in Anacortes, for a slide show and discussion of Darrell's recent 1,400-mile solo paddle from Seattle to Skagway, AK, over two summers by kayak. The trip was one segment of Darrell's multi-year journey afoot and afloat from Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, chronicled on Darrell's web site:


Darrell's "trip of a lifetime" began at the US-Mexico border in 2004, and over the following summers he hiked to Canada, paddled the Skagit River, and kayaked to Alaska. His journey continues in the Spring of 2010 as he follows the gold rush trail over Chilkoot Pass to the headwaters of the Yukon River, and paddles the Yukon to the foot of the Brooks Range. This will set the stage for his final push over the Brooks and down the Colville River to Alaska's Arctic Coast, 50 miles West of Prudhoe Bay.

For a brief evening, Darrell will take you along with him. Admission is free, but Washington Water Trails Association will make a brief appeal for your support of efforts to reopen DNR facilities on Cypress and Strawberry Islands to year-round access and camping for paddlers.

Let's meet up at about 6pm and grab some pizza and refreshments. We'll head upstairs at 7pm for Darrell's presentation. Hope you can join us!

Village Pizza is at 807 Commercial Avenue in Anacortes. Call in advance if you want your food waiting for you -- (360) 293-7847