EMS Sold -- Again

vftt.org

Help Support vftt.org:

This site may earn a commission from merchant affiliate links, including eBay, Amazon, and others.
EMS in West Lebanon I’d advertising a big blow-out sale, which makes me think this might be the NH store on the chopping block.
https://www.hartfordbusiness.com/ar...bs-stores-eastern-mountain-sports-plans-store
W Leb is a high revenue performer in the EMS system, as is Portsmouth. My guess is Concord NH or possibly N Conway.

When I worked at Portsmouth we got two trucks a week from the Meriden warehouse. With layoffs pending there wonder if they will retain enough staff to keep supply chain flowing to stores.
 
Last edited:
This is what I see. Not sure if its a place holder prior to an unplug.

GONE HIKING

Except our IT department who are hard at work making planned updates to our website. Take a break, get outside, or stop by your local EMS store in the meantime. We'll see you back on our new, enhanced website soon!
 
This article suggests they are laying off, closing stores and selling off stuff to maintain revenue. AKA the death cycle for a business.
https://www.ctinsider.com/business/...rn-mountain-sports-ems-ct-retail-19468110.php

Most markets seem to tend towards n-opolies, where n is small and the survivors large. How would EMS compete with AliExpress, Amazon, and Decathlon? For that matter, can REI survive? Campmor? Bike Nashbar?

Global supply chain logistics is a thing.
 
Last edited:
.... Most markets seem to tend towards n-opolies, where n is small and the survivors large. How would EMS compete with AliExpress, Amazon, and Decathlon? For that matter, can REI survive? Campmor? Bike Nashbar?

Global supply chain logistics is a thing.
Survival depends on the company's ability to find someone willing to provide a large infusion of cash.

Private equity has already had its play with the company. I'm not sure who is left.

Complicating matters, unpaid suppliers halted shipments, Stores are full of Winter gear that is not selling and must be deeply discounted.

A very challenging situation in which the current owners have little to no leverage. Not good.

Finally, the business management team's disastrous expansion strategy effectively eliminates them from future decision making under a new white knight investor.
 
Last edited:
It comes down to chapter 7 versus chapter 11. Private Equity funds tend to be very good at stripping any and all value before throwing in the towel. In many cases they even setup the debt in a way that they get paid first out of any assets that are sold off.

In the case of a business with a trademark, the trademark can be sold as an asset. The buyer has no liability for the past they just get a logo that they think they can make a buck on in the future. In the case of the third world, they dont even go to the trouble of buying the trademark.
 
It's a dog-eat-dog world and has been for a long time in the Outdoor Industry. Many companies start small as cottage industries only to be bought out by the next bigger fish in the pond. EMS has been on that Bus for a long time. If this is not the final stop IMO it is just a matter of time.
 
EMS was THE store to go to back in the 80's and for quite some time after that. The store in North Conway was fantastic and with the climbing school in the store, it was the place to go, along with International Mountain Equipment (IME). AS the years went along, they faded and slowly lost their edge at least for the veteran mountain climber for two main reasons. One, the sales staff went from experienced and knowledgeable outdoor people who could actually help you and answer questions, to just retail workers that really couldn't sell hand warmers to an Eskimo. Two, they lost their vision with the products they sold. The EMS brand is just ok, and they didn't carry the top brands on a consistent basis. They were hobbling along and then REI started expanding east. REI did many things right and the customer base started shifting. I was willing to drive to Mass to shop at REI after becoming a member when living in CO. EMS is one step above Dicks sporting goods and we don't need two Dicks. (Faux Pas). It is a shame, my memories of shopping at the Hotel store in North Conway as a budding mountain climber are still strong, but all good things come to an end and EMS is a horse with a broken leg.
 
Take a trip on the way-back-machine to the early 1970's when I was in college in NY State and was part of a very active outing club, focusing mainly on cave exploration. The University was generous with funding us, which we spent almost 100% on our favored underground climbing sport, mainly with both undergrad and grad student geology department student members, including a fantastic road trip to New Mexico to work with the Park Service exploring, mapping and studying features in the Carlsbad Cavern area and nearby cave environs with rope drops as much as 300 feet deep into previously unexplored pits and passages. At the time REI and EMS were in competition, but REI, as a member co-op had the edge with its annual cash points member rebate. Our club funding had to be accounted for and fully spent each year, or we would not receive the same amount (or more) in the next season. Most went to REI.

REI was also a much different beast then with their sales catalog packed with each REI board member contributing advice and stories about each of their own active wilderness adventures and how to best use available equipment. Of course, it was focused primarily on west coast adventure trips. I saved each catalog for years as useful reference materials. EMS also had their well stocked equipment catalog, but it fell far short in the free advice and local use department, but at least they were based in the East.

At the time, although you were legally supposed to pay sales tax in NY on all purchases, even when purchased from out of state, either by mail or in person, but nobody volunteered to pay sales tax on any mail order from out of state, and vendors did not then include the tax when shipped to NY. So that, along with EMS stores cropping up in NY State with unescapable sales tax on all purchases, the REI member rebate with "optional' sales tax, and its interesting advice columns, definitely gave REI the huge edge.

At some point later, some fool in EMS marketing decided to end catalog sales, and then completely stopped producing a mail order catalog as online ordering was the future coming thing of all sales. The only advantage for me was that my brother lived near the EMS flagship store in Peterborough NH where there is no state sales tax, and it still had relevant items for sale.

Then REI opened their first store in New York State, way down near the NYC area, too far for me to ever visit, but now there was no way to escape my state collecting sales tax on REI purchases. REI was forced to automatically charge sales tax on all purchases, no matter whether purchased in store, by mail order form, or online.

Then it all changed in a major way as both REI and EMS moved their sales focus from equipment produced for true outdoor adventure types, to catering to city and fashion folk who had more money to spend on trendy and colorful outdoor clothing and cheap unreliable equipment mass made in China. REI terminated its adventure story columns, and useful advice in their catalogs, and both REI and EMS eventually lost favor with their older base customers.
 
EMS was THE store to go to back in the 80's and for quite some time after that. The store in North Conway was fantastic and with the climbing school in the store, it was the place to go, along with International Mountain Equipment (IME). AS the years went along, they faded and slowly lost their edge at least for the veteran mountain climber for two main reasons. One, the sales staff went from experienced and knowledgeable outdoor people who could actually help you and answer questions, to just retail workers that really couldn't sell hand warmers to an Eskimo. Two, they lost their vision with the products they sold. The EMS brand is just ok, and they didn't carry the top brands on a consistent basis. They were hobbling along and then REI started expanding east. REI did many things right and the customer base started shifting. I was willing to drive to Mass to shop at REI after becoming a member when living in CO. EMS is one step above Dicks sporting goods and we don't need two Dicks. (Faux Pas). It is a shame, my memories of shopping at the Hotel store in North Conway as a budding mountain climber are still strong, but all good things come to an end and EMS is a horse with a broken leg.
Both at EMS and IME the line between the retail and the climbing school was nearly transparent back in the 70’s and 80’s. You could be cragging in the morning and see a climbing guide from one of the stores then later that afternoon be shopping and see the same bro behind the counter selling gear. IME is still somewhat like that to an extent. No wonder the founder of IME was an EMS guide before going out on his own. EMS and to an extent REI have both lost their person ability. Which leads me to believe is an underlying cause of EMS’s struggles.
 
Goodness...

Watching the EMS web site over the past few days is like...

tenor.gif
 
Yet when you drill down into specific items there are no drastic reductions. Weird.
Likely since it says you get 20% off with the code (Blowout), so it won't show up on each item as you look at them separately, only in the cart when that code is entered (maybe as you are preparing to finish checking out).
 
Lots and lots of out of stock items, and if you buy, there are no returns. I am old enough to remember the lifetime satisfaction guarantee!
 
Top