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Thread: EMS Sold -- Again

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    EMS Sold -- Again

    The EMS retail chain was sold this past summer. And the buyer is not who you might expect.

    It's a company that is new to the outdoor industry and that defines itself as follows:

    “GoDigital Media Group a diversified multinational conglomerate focused on technology-enabled and vertically integrated IP rights management through its operating subsidiaries.”

    But they had $70 million in cash and a plan.

    More here....
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    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    A plan, are you sure?

    As an employee from the 90's a plan would be nice finally. I wonder if a Digital Media Group may look at a plan of being online only? (Lower cost, likely)
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike P. View Post
    A plan, are you sure?

    As an employee from the 90's a plan would be nice finally. I wonder if a Digital Media Group may look at a plan of being online only? (Lower cost, likely)
    Online only was my guess too.

    But they are opening a new bricks-n-mortar in Burlington VT this month.

    More here…
    Last edited by ChrisB; 11-07-2022 at 02:35 PM.
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    The logo gets passed around but my guess is its "soul" died long ago.

    REI is a non profit behemoth so they can steamroller any profit making entity. I stopped by Trader Joes in Bedford NH last week, I walked out the door and saw the REI coming soon sign on the new building across the street.
    Last edited by peakbagger; 11-07-2022 at 06:15 PM.

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    "... a diversified multinational conglomerate focused on technology-enabled and vertically integrated IP rights management through its operating subsidiaries ..."

    Is it the 1990s again? That is some jargon.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    I go into EMS every now and then just to poke around. It's still a little generic in nature and I think they are far from the REI model which is much more hiker orientated. Two things they have improved on, Footwear selection and customer service. The staff has improved, and they are both more customer friendly and more knowledgeable, at least that's been my impression. Not to mention they are now dog friendly as well. If I was asked how they could improve their model, I have two suggestions right off the bat. Remake their store brand, the stuff is trash, REI's store brand is heads and tails a better product. Secondly, revamp the rewards program. I do benefit from the current program, but not very much. This could really drive loyalty and business if they structured the program to offer more, I know the margins are there to allow this to happen. Just my 2 cents.

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    Senior Member Nessmuk's Avatar
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    I first joined REI in the early 1970's (for a $10 on- time lifetime membership fee then - yes, I am a dinosaur). Each catalog was filled with useful ourdoor information, not just on their products, but also on general advice. Each member of the board wrote an article on their recent adventures and wilderness expeditions. I saved each catalog for the information it contained.

    Then I became aware of EMS, much closer to home. Similar offerings in the general catalog. product wise, but without the added adventure product use stories and without the annual member dividend on purchases made throughout the year. I bought a lot of gear in those early days and was an officer in my college outing club. The EMS catalog was thin and not worth saving. At some point after the internet revolution, some marketing brainiac at corporate EMS decided to eliminate their catalog completely, offering online and in store shopping only. At about the same time REI opened a store in NY. At that time you did not have to pay NY sales tax on purchases made out of state (technically you legally did, but no one actually did). So the REI dividend was eaten up with in-state sales tax, although still a better deal than the equivalent from EMS with their NY store presence.

    But REI had changed substantially by then, non longer did the catalog contain anything like the useful information I had previously saved them for. Both REI and EMS had less and less hard core outdoor equipment, moving instead to foo-foo fluff clothing that appealed to city-folk easy trail hikers who felt it more important to look cool when in the woods than to have quality equipment.

    Fortunately, my collection of necessary equipment is mainly complete and my need to buy new gear has diminished in recent years, and there are other resources for anything specialized I may need, so I rarely look to either company anymore.
    Last edited by Nessmuk; 11-10-2022 at 10:19 PM.
    "She's all my fancy painted her, she's lovely, she is light. She waltzes on the waves by day and rests with me at night." - Nessmuk, Forest and Stream, July 21, 1880 [of the Wood Drake Canoe built for him by Rushton]

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    I know the EMS chain has its detractors, and as a part time employee I admit I am less than totally objective!

    But, if you want to actually try on rock climbing shoes or mounteering boots, heft an ice ax or evaluate the balance of ice tools, play with all forms of rock protection, sample a sleeping bag or pad, twiddle with various headlamps and stoves, heft a myriad of water bottles/bladders, walk around for an hour wearing a loaded pack or sign up for a guided climb….

    There are not a lot of places left where you can do all of that under one roof. (Unless you live in North Conway or Keene Valley.)

    And of course it’s a great place to verify your boot or clothing size before ordering the item on the Internet.

    The store I work in even has a small climbing wall for trying out rock shoes.

    I hope the chain continues to evolve and get better. Opening a new site in Burlington VT in this economy is either genius or suicidal. I’m not sure which.
    Last edited by ChrisB; 11-10-2022 at 07:58 PM.
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    I remember taking a train into NYC at the age of 15 with a friend and his Mom to shop at the EMS in Manhattan, sometime in the early 80's. I think it was one of only one or 2 stores in existence at the time. How exciting to have the opportunity to actually see real hiking gear beyond what we were able to get at the local hunting and bait shop. their name brand stuff (that had their old logo) was pretty reliable.

    The biggest frustration I have with the new model for these retailers, which includes the big box general retailers; is you can rarely find what you need in the season. Its all marketing for the upcoming activity and you best buy what you can get what your hands on early, since you won't find it when you need it. I find it irritating not to be able to buy gloves in March, but you can find spring fashion and bathing suits.

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    I believe that EMS originated from the store Mountaineering Supply on Comm Ave near BU in Boston around 1967. We would spend all night on the sidewalk outside the store before their big annual sale each year, with people in line democratically deciding who go for what big sale item once inside, kinda like the olden days at park headquarters in Millinocket for BSP reservations. In the early 1970’s, the owners Gardner Perry and Al McDonaugh bought the Eastern Slope Inn in NC where Rick Wilcox became its first EMS store manager, until he bought IME when Paul Ross moved back to England. I still have a 1967 catalog somewhere, which is like those described above.

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    Senior Member skiguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Dasypodidae View Post
    I believe that EMS originated from the store Mountaineering Supply on Comm Ave near BU in Boston around 1967. We would spend all night on the sidewalk outside the store before their big annual sale each year, with people in line democratically deciding who go for what big sale item once inside, kinda like the olden days at park headquarters in Millinocket for BSP reservations. In the early 1970’s, the owners Gardner Perry and Al McDonaugh bought the Eastern Slope Inn in NC where Rick Wilcox became its first EMS store manager, until he bought IME when Paul Ross moved back to England. I still have a 1967 catalog somewhere, which is like those described above.
    Going to EMS in those days was an adventure. Your probably as old as dirt like me and remember when Limmers sold tents and Optimus stoves. EMS had not landed yet but when they did that's when Limmers deciced to just sell boots.
    "I'm getting up and going to work everyday and I am stoked. That does not suck!"__Shane McConkey

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    I remember getting my first set of Kneissl Cross Country Skis in Hartford Connecticut in the late 70's.

    I think they took their first hit from the Internet--I grew tired of being pushed to boots or sizes in stock rather than something that had to be ordered. Then their lifetime warranty became a lie. Sticking with confusing brands such as Northface-urban wear and useful layers in the same vicinity--- didn't help.

    I might drop into the Portsmouth store to kill time, but visiting Kittery Trading Post is always more interesting.

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Hey, any of you old-as-dirt dogs remember Skimiesters in North Woodstock NH? That was a cool place.

    Guy who worked there lived in a rustic shack behind the store and was some type of a minister.

    I bought most of my winter kit there when I was a kid.
    Don't let your mind write a check your body canít cash

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    Senior Member ChrisB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Remix View Post
    ... visiting Kittery Trading Post is always more interesting.
    What's really interesting at the KTP is visiting the gun department and watching the guys checking out assault rifles.
    Don't let your mind write a check your body canít cash

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    Quote Originally Posted by ChrisB View Post
    Hey, any of you old-as-dirt dogs remember Skimiesters in North Woodstock NH? That was a cool place.

    Guy who worked there lived in a rustic shack behind the store and was some type of a minister.

    I bought most of my winter kit there when I was a kid.
    I remember Skimiesters, but bought more gear at Climber's Corner in Cambridge. My first favorite gear store was Moor and Mountain in Concord, MA.

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