Archive for category Gear

Will We Ever Pay Retail Again?

With the emergence of dozens of invitation only discount websites spanning across pretty much every product category, the question arises; will we ever pay retail again?  As a consumer, I love the sales that are going on out there but i’m curious how this will effect the retail environment as prices keep getting lower and sales get bigger.  The websites I am referring to are invitation only shopping sites that offer very large discounts to their members, but in an exclusive and fast paced online setting.  Depending on the site, a company or product will be featured for a certain time period, usually only a day or two, which forces consumers to act fast because stock is limited so things sell out quick.  Most of the sites only feature a few companies at a time to keep it exclusive and have you checking back daily to see what new companies are being featured and how big the discounts are.  Because the discounts are so steep and you have to act fast, they rely on buyers to be impulsive.  I have found myself buying things that I didn’t neccissarily need, but were too good to pass up.  The Reebok Pumps I scored for $32 on Gilt Group the other week, although impulsive, were well worth it though.  Another great thing about these sites is the discovery of new companies.  Many of the featured companies are smaller brands looking to get their name out and these sales are great for both the companies and the consumers.  Be sure to sign up for the notifications because you never know when one of these sites will feature your favorite brand or a product you have been dying to buy.

Here is a list of “Invitation Only” shopping sites that I have joined.  Many have waiting lists or require an invite so click on the logos below to head straight to the sites and sign up through my invite….The first 6 are all primarily clothing and accessory sites, most offering mens as well as womens, the second to last features home goods and the last is for outdoor gear (part of Backcountry.com)….don’t forget about Jetsetter (part of Gilt Group) for hotel and vacation deals…….enjoy the discounts……

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Gröe Clothing: Limited Edition Shirts That Are Literally Works Of Art

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Today I will be spotlighting a new clothing line started by Jared Allen, a very talented artist and professional skier based out of Ogden, Utah. It appears that when Jared is not hucking himself off 100 foot cliffs, he is at work creating unique works of art in his Ogden studio. Recently, he has turned to a new medium for his artwork: clothing. Gröe is a limited edition clothing line that features his artwork on t-shirts in limited numbers. Each design is only printed 72 times and when it sells out, he prints a new design. This keeps the line fresh and gives you a unique t-shirt that you won’t see on many other people. The other great thing about these new shirts is the price. If you are sick of seeing trendy tees for $40 plus, than you will be comforted by the $17 price tag on each of these unique shirts. Check out the website to learn more and order a few for yourself – shipping is just $5: http://groeclothing.com/

Last week I had a chance to ask Jared a few questions about Gröe – here is what he said:

idea1. What is your background as an Artist / Skier?

I started out drawing mummies on skateboards in elementary school. Then I drew comic books in junior high and high school. I got a degree in Advertising Design as a way of dodging the term “starving artist”. Now I do a mix of fine art and design work. Most of my current clients are in the ski/outdoor industry.
My ski background…. hmmmm, I like jumping off cliffs. I like going fast. I like progressing. I think skiing is a great way of pushing your personal boundaries and stepping up to real goals and challenges. It’s been a huge part of my life.

2. Where did you come up with the idea for this company? Why did you pick t-shirts as a medium? Who is your main audience/market?

The idea for Groe is something I’ve always had. I guess it’s not so much an idea as it is an approach to life. The concept to keep growing. To keep challenging yourself. To keep an open mind. It’s how I try to live. Groe is just the name we attached to it.

I’ve wanted to do something with T’s for a long time. It’s just such a creative medium. I was looking into limited edition screen prints of some of my paintings and decided limited edition T’s would be more fun. Take the artwork off the wall and out on the town.

As far as an audience goes…. anyone, everyone. Anyone who is awake to what life can be. Or wants to be awake. It’s amazing what’s possible if you keep thinking. There is no exclusion based on anything other than a closed mind. We’re even starting to print baby items. We do seem to be doing well with the “extreme sports” or “hipster” crowds, but that’s just natural given the backgrounds in skiing and art.

3. Where did you draw your inspiration from? What would you define your style as?

Inspiration comes from everything. Every photo taken by your eyes. My kids are a big inspiration. It’s amazing the epiphanies you’ll have playing with toddler toys. It’s like a second spin at life, but you’ve still got your first eyes and memories. Life in general is the inspiration.

I don’t know that my style has a name. I like working with typography and the concept of literal items “growing” off the word Groe. I also like working with characters. It’s fun imagining their personalities and building quirky back stories.

4. What does the future have in store for you and Gröe?

In my first job interview after college my soon to be future boss asked me: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I replied with some type of boring path up a corporate ladder. Today if I were asked that question I’d have to say that I have no idea where I’ll be in 10 years. No clue, but I do know that I will be in control and it’s going to be a fun ride.

Short term we’re working on setting up our own press and evolving into a few other items beyond T’s. We may actually print the T after the order. We’ll supply a list of designs, colors and potential blanks options (T’s hoodys, hats, kids items, etc… We may also start doing live printing at art events. I’d like to get more involved at community level as well. Maybe teach some art classes or offer classes on avoiding all the traps we people have set for each other, but tied to a capacity to have time for art. It’s hard to find time to pursue your dreams (art, skiing), or your life if you’re trapped. I could go on about this stuff forever, but I won’t… right now.

And as a parting shot, here is Jared in his element……going big!

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Warriors Of Radness

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Warriors of Radness is probably the most awesome name for a clothing line I have ever heard. The line is a little crazy but you can’t help but love the name, and for that reason I am posting them up here. The company drew their inspiration from the Southern California beach and surf scene in the 80s and although the gear is not surf wear, the themes on their trendy tees and clothing definitely bring you back to the Jeff Spicoli days of the 80s.

Although I am not a fan of $36 tee shirts or $80 sweatshirts, their colors and logos are….well….pretty rad. They might have gone a little overboard with their $138 stone washed jeans which look like they belong on the set of “Saved By The Bell”, but the line does give out a distinct 80s surf vibe, which is what they are trying to achieve.

Check out their fall 2009 line at: http://www.warriorsofradness.com/

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Euro Kicks: Onitsuka Tiger x Wood Wood

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If you like simple, classic kicks then these new Onitsuka Tigers will be right up your alley.  These classic Runner X-Calibers were originally released in 1982, but thanks to the Danish brand Wood Wood, you can now relive the 80s with these classic re-makes.  I’m a big fan of the subtle color palate, highlighted by blue touches and the little clover.  If you are thinking, wow these look just like Asics, well you are right.  Onitsuka was started in Japan in 1949, later merging with GTO and Jelenik to form Asics in 1977.  The Onitsuka brand remains today as their vintage shoe line…..

Ok enough with the history lesson, here is how you get them….They are being offered for $143.23 VAT included…..if you can get them shipped over from France via Colette

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It’s That Time Of Year Again……The Ski Buyer’s Guides Are Out!

If you are a skier like I am, then you probably start to feel “the turn” around this time of year……Although summer is great, you can’t help but think about the upcoming ski season as nights become cooler and the bears in town start fattening up for hibernation….

The ski magazines are in tune with these end of summer blues, so they publish their first editions in late August/early September. Most magazines start off their season with a gear buyer’s guide to show you whats new and exciting for the upcoming season. What better way to get pumped for skiing, than to drool over all the new equipment you wish you could afford.

After a couple seasons working in a ski shop paired with two 100+ day ski seasons, I have become a harsh critic on gear.

This year I give you my rundown of the 4 major ski buyer’s guides……and the winner is……

1. Freeskier Magazine

photo_17223_-1x630_0Although I don’t sag my goggles or wear super bright, baggy threads, I do love fat skis and the latest and greatest in ski technology. Freeskier is by far the best buyers guide on the newstands this season because it is in depth, gives actual reviews and includes a lot of info about rockered skis. This buyers guide is definitely aimed at the younger, more advanced ski crowd. Most all of the skis reviewed were over 90mm in the waist, including 43 skis tested over 110mm in the waist. That is my kind of test as I am an advocate of the bigger is better mantra (out west at least). Their stoke meter which is their review system is not always too accurate in my mind, but skis are very personal so its tough to review for the masses and hey, at least they have some type of rating system. On top of that, they feature the little guys – the boutique ski companies that are helping to progress the industry. Not only do they review all the fat skis that are out there, they take a look at clothing and accessories. Most of the clothing is a little too steezy for me but they do include my boys TREW (who also got a shout-out in an editor’s setup)! On top of all this, they even throw in a poster of this years Lange Girl for you. Two thumbs up from this guy.

2. Powder Magazine

First off I have to commend Powder on this issue, not because of their buyers guide but because of the the double cover and their tribute to Shane McConkey who is a legend and one of the reasons I became so obsessed with this sport. The ski world will not be the same without Shane but he left us with an amazing legacy. Hopefully Shane is smearing some pow turns in heaven as I write this.

Because of this great tribute, maybe they didn’t spend as much time on their buyers guide so i’m ok with that. Their rather slim guide doesn’t have actual reviews of any of the skis, only company blurbs about how they should ski. Kudos to them for featuring fatter, more advanced skis but they get major points off for their lack of descriptions, reviews and only showing a few models per company. They mention some boutiques like Freeskier did, just in a much more condensed fashion.

I do love Powder though and I love how they gave Shane his first cover. R.I.P Shane.

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Tied for Last…..Skiing Magazine and Ski Magazine

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Oh boy, this is where things get rather interesting. I’ve never been a fan of either of these magazine as they tend to appeal to the beginner/intermediate crowd who don’t know much about skiing, but every once in a while they surprise me. Not this time though. As usual, both of these buyers guides appeal to the average cruiser and mostly disregard the new technology and the fact that a 90mm waisted ski is no longer considered a powder ski. Its as if these buyers guides are stuck in 2002 when they refer to a freeride ski as being a 80-90mm waisted ski, and a “super-wide” ski being over 105 under foot. I’m sorry but this is 2009 and super-wide is more like 120+. For most of us 105 is more of an all-mountain/freeride ski. I know they are appealing to the masses and people on both coasts but please don’t call an 80mm waisted ski a freeride ski in 2009 because that is just silly. The only good thing about these guides is the fact that they use an actual rating system to pick their favorites. I disagree with many of them, but at least they are trying.

I Hope this helps all of you in your search for new gear this season but if you are like me, you will probably buy all 4 nonetheless. I never do get sick of looking at ski magazines or gear. If you are looking for new skis or gear this year, shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to give some suggestions.

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Bo Knows Kicks: Nike Air Max Light “Tecmo Bo”

Remember Bo Jackson and the clever 1989 /90 Nike campaign of “Bo Knows”? Even though I was 7 at the time, I remember. Bo was the first athlete in the modern era to play professional baseball and football in the same year which was, and still is quite an amazing feat.

What better way to commemorate Bo than with his own “Tecmo Bo” edition Nike Air Max Lights.

These kicks, although not quite as sweet as his original 1989 cross trainers, are classic with their white and blue Kansas City theme. The key feature of these kicks has to be the tongue, which has a Nintendo style 1980s Tecmo Bo(wl) logo of him playing baseball.

These are gonna be tough ones to find but you can get them at select stores including Kix-Files.

Thanks to the tip from Nice Kicks

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Gearburger.com – Get Custom Alerts When Gear Goes On Sale

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If you are a gear nerd like I am, then you probably already know about discount sites like steepandcheap.com. These sites sell overstock items from larger parent companies like Backcountry.com in this case, offering buyers one item at a time in limited quantities. This format results in a lot of impulse buying. The discounts are often so high that you end up buying gear that you don’t need, but seems too good to pass up. Since the launch of Steepandcheap.com, many other sites have popped up that are more specialized like chainlove.com, just for bike deals. Most of these sites still call Backcountry.com their owner, but other immitators have popped up along the way as well.

Although I love these types of sites, I don’t have the time to constantly check them all for deals that I may be interested in. Most offer email alerts or a desktop widget to alert you when each new deal is up, but for the most part, I am never interested in the products they have on special. For me i’m interested in certain ski gear and outerwear from companies like Volkl, Patagonia and Arc’Teryx, but every time I check out steepandcheap.com or tramdock.com, products like womens tank tops or beer bottle opening flip flops are featured. I seem to always miss the deals that I would have actually acted on and I don’t want to receive 20 emails a day alerting me about these unappealing deals.

To solve this gear delemma, two guys out of San Francisco have come up with a new website to make sure you don’t miss the good deals. Gearburger.com is a simple and easy to use website that alerts you when the gear you want goes on sale. The sign-up process is super simple, just requiring an email and a timeframe for when you want to receive the alerts. Then you can choose which products or companies you wish to be alerted about and boom you are done. Gear Burger will then send you emails with links to deals based on your custom selections of companies and products you are interested in. Gear Burger will filter out the bad and irrelevant deals and alert you about the deals relevant to your tastes and interests. You also can’t help but love their mascot…..what is that thing? Looks like a fat cow, mixed with a horse.

Not 15 minutes after I signed up for alerts from 10 selected companies, did I get my first email alert. It informed me that some Rossignol Axial2 150 ski bindings were on sale at Tramdock.com for $179 or 41% off. This is exactly the alert a gear whore like me needs to know about. I had checked off Rossignol on my list of companies to alert me about, and Gearburger.com delivered with a great deal on some burly bindings.

This straight forward and super helpful site is a must for gear nerds and gear whores across the outdoor universe. Don’t miss out on another deal, sign up free for your customized alerts at Gearburger.com.

As a nice bonus the guys over at Gear Burger will send you some free stickers if you shoot them an email at info@gearburger.com – tell them Mike sent ya!

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My Love Affair With Northwave Bike Shoes (& Paola Pezzo): 12 Years and 2 Pairs Later…

Maybe it’s because i’m half Italian, but it seems like I have a penchant for Italian products. Whether we are talking about cars, fashion or food, Italians know a little something about style and flavor. Although not too Italian sounding, Northwave is a prime example of a high quality and oh so stylish Italian company.

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Most people do not fret too much over the purchase of bike shoes, worrying more about the key components of their bikes instead. However, just like ski boots that connect the skier to the ski, bike shoes connect the biker to the bike so the purchase of shoes shouldn’t be taken too lightly. Although fellow Italian company Sidi seems to dominate the bike shoe world, I have chosen another, smaller Italian company to obsess about.

My obsession started back in the mid 90s when I was an aspiring young mountain bike racer. Back then the competitive side of mountain biking was very small, making it easy to rub elbows with the pros. One pro in particular, Paolo Pezzo caught my attention and after she signed my race number at the NORBA championships at Mt. Snow in 1995; I was smitten. A year later she took home the Gold medal in the first ever mountain bike event at the Atlanta summer olympics. She did so in controversial style, taking heat from officials and the public alike for unzipping her jersey a little too much. As you can see in the picture below, her outfit and unzipping of the jersey are very tasteful in my opinion. Many young men had baywatch posters on their walls in the mid 90s but I had Paola with her unzipped jersey in all her Gold medal glory.

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Other than her great outfit that day, I noticed her bold red, white and green shoes and knew I had to have them. It took awhile to track them down stateside and I had to settle on orange, but I was soon rocking some Northwaves just like Paola.

Flash forward12 years and what do you know, I still had the same orange Northwaves and they were still in one piece. Over those 12 years they had seen a lot of use and held up remarkably well. Even though they still worked, they looked a little worn and sad so they needed to be replaced. As a replacement I went right back to Northwave and went with their top of the line Aerlite S.B.S. shoes.

After a couple months in my new Northwaves, I am happy. Although I don’t remember what my first pair felt like when they were new, i’m pretty sure the latest generation of Northwaves maintain the same quality. The latest model boasts some fancy new features such as the rachet closure system that creates a nice snug fit. Although not everyone has a foot that will fit perfectly in a Northwave, I urge you to look at them as a replacement for your Sidis or other mass produced bike shoe. You will appreciate their Italian style and quality and who knows, your next pair might just last 12 years like mine did.

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For more info about Northwave visit: http://www.northwave.com/

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Birdwell Beach Britches

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My first retail job experience came in 2002 when I worked at the Haul Over, a small surf shop in Nantucket. Although I spent most of my time on the beach and not working, I did take something away from the experience; Birdwell Beach Britches. These board shorts are the real deal. They aren’t trendy or flashy, just well made, simple and functional. They have been making them since 1961 so its safe to say these things are classic. Although they come in a few colors with different inseam options, you can’t go wrong. If you really want to kick it old school, spring for the “Short Basic” style with the rather short 14in outseam if you are confident showing a little thigh.

Another great thing about this company; their website. Talk about old school, its super basic and oh so out-dated but gets the job done. See you at the beach, brah!

https://www.birdwellbeachbritches.com/

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Nike Air Max 1 Premium Tier Zero – Patta

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The Nike Air Max 1’s are by far my favorite sneakers ever made. Thankfully, Nike continues to collaborate with various companies to keep these classic kicks on my feet. Although sometimes hard to find and often with hefty price tags, I manage to find various styles of these classic Nikes year in and year out. The latest Air Max 1 release comes from a popular boutique in Amsterdam called Patta. Unlike so many of the releases which are noisy and too colorful for my taste, I love the whites and touch of green on these. The release is slated for the Holiday season 2009. Don’t get too excited about them though, Hypebeast reports that there are only 3 pairs rumored to exist. Samples are going for upwards of $1,800 on ebay right now….

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