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Thread: Mountain Fest - North Conway Area June 4th to 7th.

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    Mountain Fest - North Conway Area June 4th to 7th.

    https://www.conwaydailysun.com/news/...913d9b0b0.html

    Things are booming down in the Mt Washington Valley and REI is pumping a lot of cash into local events. I expect its also an attempt to get the summer tourism season started a bit earlier.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Kind of ironic. EMS has had a presence in the valley for years and they have no involvement. REI hasn't had time for their paint to dry and they are on the team.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    Kind of ironic. EMS has had a presence in the valley for years and they have no involvement. REI hasn't had time for their paint to dry and they are on the team.
    Their philosophies are a lot different. This particular REI is marketing their COOP mentality in North Conway as a self proclaimed concept store. Which could be good for EMS as they are still a full blown retail store. Speaking with numerous REI employees they said they are making a greater push towards Outdoor Education. They are hoping to get folks to join the COOP not only for the member retail benefits but to also encourage folks meeting and learning together as a group or again a COOP. They are charging a good penny for these services and have multiple Travel Vans to support the effort. So far their retail presence is much leaner than EMS. Rather than a wide array of multiple brands within multiple categories they are much more streamlined offering a smattering of brands. Clothing seems to have the biggest selection of brand names with yet a big push towards their own label. Much of the store space is designed in a work station type of environment again to facilitate the learning mentality. One of the brighter spots of this model is that they are making a conscious effort to coordinate with already existing Organizations again to COOPerate with the community rather than trying to make a stand alone effort. For instance they donated a sizable amount of money with one of the local organizations that has been trying to build a rec path through the Valley. Like it has been for a long time in The MWV there has always been some overlap amount of Outdoor Outfitters but each has it’s own nitch. REI seems to be adhering to that model.
    Last edited by skiguy; 12-30-2019 at 07:59 PM.
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    My call is REI sees the writing on the wall. Conventional retail is dying and a brick and mortar retailer is not going to compete on price. Folks may go in the store to check out gear but many will be on their smartphone checking out the lowest cost place to buy the same product on line while in the store or when they get home. EMS was long ago bought out by an old-time discount retailer, just beating a dead horse to get a few more sales before the brand is totally diminished. The local staff over the years have tried hard and offered the climbing school and ties with guides but once they moved into the new place under one of the myriads of new owners, they became far more retail rather than an outfitter.

    The REI target business model is offer the Experiences and folks will gear up at the store before and then after the Experience. Beans has been using this model for years with their Outdoor Discovery School in the Freeport Maine area. Standard SOP for local mountain guiding services is to have a gear check of incoming participants in advance of the big event. Inevitably folks are missing gear, or the gear they have is borderline or they are already emotionally and financially invested in the activity and figure some new gear may make up for lack of conditioning and experience. After the gear check and before the “big hike” they are going to go out to whatever local store is convenient and slap the credit card down with far less thought. I have heard folks speculate over the years is that’s how the IME model works. REI is cutting out the middleman and offering the “guided” experience and just happens to stock the needed (or wanted) gear (same thing EMS used to do when they were up the road). Folks are basically paying for a rolling advertisement along with their Experience. Even if the event is free, REI is converting themselves from a store to a “partner” that is helping a potential customer out in having a better outdoor experience. Far easier to buy retail from a “partner” than a store.

    The other factor is the Mt Washington Valley is going higher end. All the new construction in the area is high end condos and homes along with national brand hotels. High end folks on vacation tend not to haggle or price check, just throw the credit card down and buy. REI just needs to get the visibility to be the place they throw their card down. The visitors don’t know the local stores so they tend to default on a name they know and REI is the one. The only other big-name folks would recognize is Beans (conveniently right next door) and since opening in the area 25 plus years ago they have never attempted to be an “outfitter”, they have always been the standard factory outlet where they got rid of overstocks and returned items from the mothership.

    It would be interesting what the behind the scenes dynamics on why REI has elected to bypass a direct tie in with AMC (Note AMC is member of the White Mountain Trails collective and indirectly benefits from REI money). Could it be that AMC decided that they wanted to be purist and not accept tainted commercial REI money? Or did REI pick up that AMC has some long term “baggage” in the valley? AMC has a lot of former employees spread around the region and as the proposed new hut in Crawford Notch proposal a few years ago brought up, many of the former employees are not fans. AMC also has tended to stick to the summits over the years, not really getting involved with the Mt Washington Valley. Sure, there is some local outreach to schools but rarely does one see AMC sponsoring activities. AMC is regarded as an old school Boston based hiking club to many younger visitors and REI is going for a broader recreational market that AMC is perceived not to be interested in.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 12-31-2019 at 08:39 AM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    My call is REI sees the writing on the wall. Conventional retail is dying and a brick and mortar retailer is not going to compete on price. Folks may go in the store to check out gear but many will be on their smartphone checking out the lowest cost place to buy the same product on line while in the store or when they get home. EMS was long ago bought out by an old-time discount retailer, just beating a dead horse to get a few more sales before the brand is totally diminished. The local staff over the years have tried hard and offered the climbing school and ties with guides but once they moved into the new place under one of the myriads of new owners, they became far more retail rather than an outfitter.

    The REI target business model is offer the Experiences and folks will gear up at the store before and then after the Experience. Beans has been using this model for years with their Outdoor Discovery School in the Freeport Maine area. Standard SOP for local mountain guiding services is to have a gear check of incoming participants in advance of the big event. Inevitably folks are missing gear, or the gear they have is borderline or they are already emotionally and financially invested in the activity and figure some new gear may make up for lack of conditioning and experience. After the gear check and before the “big hike” they are going to go out to whatever local store is convenient and slap the credit card down with far less thought. I have heard folks speculate over the years is that’s how the IME model works. REI is cutting out the middleman and offering the “guided” experience and just happens to stock the needed (or wanted) gear (same thing EMS used to do when they were up the road). Folks are basically paying for a rolling advertisement along with their Experience. Even if the event is free, REI is converting themselves from a store to a “partner” that is helping a potential customer out in having a better outdoor experience. Far easier to buy retail from a “partner” than a store.

    The other factor is the Mt Washington Valley is going higher end. All the new construction in the area is high end condos and homes along with national brand hotels. High end folks on vacation tend not to haggle or price check, just throw the credit card down and buy. REI just needs to get the visibility to be the place they throw their card down. The visitors don’t know the local stores so they tend to default on a name they know and REI is the one. The only other big-name folks would recognize is Beans (conveniently right next door) and since opening in the area 25 plus years ago they have never attempted to be an “outfitter”, they have always been the standard factory outlet where they got rid of overstocks and returned items from the mothership.

    It would be interesting what the behind the scenes dynamics on why REI has elected to bypass a direct tie in with AMC (Note AMC is member of the White Mountain Trails collective and indirectly benefits from REI money). Could it be that AMC decided that they wanted to be purist and not accept tainted commercial REI money? Or did REI pick up that AMC has some long term “baggage” in the valley? AMC has a lot of former employees spread around the region and as the proposed new hut in Crawford Notch proposal a few years ago brought up, many of the former employees are not fans. AMC also has tended to stick to the summits over the years, not really getting involved with the Mt Washington Valley. Sure, there is some local outreach to schools but rarely does one see AMC sponsoring activities. AMC is regarded as an old school Boston based hiking club to many younger visitors and REI is going for a broader recreational market that AMC is perceived not to be interested in.
    Some excellent observations. I really don't think REI needs the AMC and visa versa. Also REI is pretty good at identifying their local market. All of their stores are not the same and the N. Conway store is tuned for it's location. Their resources are plentiful and also well networked. It will be interesting to see how they do with all of the guiding services they are offering. A lot of competition that is not afraid to under sell the next guy.
    Last edited by skiguy; 12-31-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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