In SNEWS: Reps discover a creative way to showcase products and brands


"The Denver Merchandise Mart is a quirky venue that's the perfect place for reps to attract buyers to spend time with their entire lines in a cool, creative atmosphere.
An icy wind whipped fresh snow into mini tornados in the narrow alleyways of a Golden, Colorado, storage facility, and Bruce Gordon dropped a box of product samples into the slush under his rented box truck.

He looked over at his business partner Zach Branson and said, “There’s got to be a better way.”


The two were hustling to make their outdoor sales agency, Mountain Source, a success, and knew that the storage-locker-and-rented-truck strategy would only get them so far. Eventually they found a home base in the Denver Merchandise Mart.

This hulking event space and collection of showrooms, tucked into an industrial pocket of north Denver, opened in 1965 as a wholesale marketplace. Unlike, the Colorado Convention Center, the new home of Outdoor Retailer, which accommodates sweeping events attended by entire industries, the Denver Merchandise Mart specializes in connecting sales representatives to buyers. It’s strictly B2B and not open to the public.

Since opening, The Denver Merchandise Mart has become a major business hub for the western wear industry, and outdoor industry sales reps in the Rocky Mountain region—like Mountain Source—are wisely beginning to take note."


The potential

So, are outdoor industry brands utilizing it and how? To begin answering that, I meet up with Mountain Source, an outdoor and snow sports sales agency with eight team members servicing retailers in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

The Smartwool showroom at the Denver Mart is an idea place for reps to show buyers the complete line.


“We used to use a storage unit and a rented truck and show product in a retail space,” says partner Bruce Gordon. “Now we have a controlled environment to interact with retailers with no distractions like we might have if we were meeting at a shop, or even worse, the back of a van. It’s revolutionized our business.”

Mountain Source currently reps Chaco, Fjällräven, GU, Hanwag, Klean Kanteen, Smartwool, and Swany.

“We want to change the agency model. As we grow, our goal is to have a [show] room for each of our brands,” says Gordon. “Ultimately, we want to show a buyer that they could stock all of our brands, and in this environment, we can mimic how those brands could be displayed in the store. Smartwool is now flying people from outside of our territory to pre-line here in this showroom.”

Their bright Smartwool space features vinyl wall wraps, custom racks and signage, and individual meeting tables to display product on. The Chaco space has artificial turf and a vibe 100-percent in line with the booth I’ve seen at Outdoor Retailer for years. Their showrooms are inviting, casual, and fun, just like the brands they rep.

“We all got into this business because it’s fun, right?” says Gordon. “But then at some point the fun is out of it. Having showrooms at the Mart has been key to us bringing some of the fun back. We can do really creative things in this space. With all of the support from the leasing manager and staff here, we have extreme flexibility to do whatever we want.”

Mountain Source’s biggest success, business wise, has been with brand extensions. “In an unhurried environment, we can introduce buyers to more brands. We were not able to do that as successfully before,” says partner Zach Branson.

“This space allows our staff to tell better stories. We do 80 percent of our annual business in this showroom now,” adds Gordon.

“It sounds cheesy,” says Branson, “but this place has given us a real sense of pride and really gotten us excited to reinvest in our business. There’s no other place we’ve seen where we can do this.”

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Review: Chaco Z/Cloud 2

By: Shey Kiester | June 3, 2017

The Z/Cloud 2 is a classic Chaco with somewhat of a cult following. This shoe has traveled with many an avid outdoor wanderer for years and years, and its durability was among the highest in our test.


As has almost always been the case, Chaco shoes have a reputation for having comfort that varies from user to user. While the sole is stiffer than any other model tested, most of our testers saw this is a huge pro. The tough sole protects from variable terrain underfoot and provides a shoe that is built to last.

With that, more flat-footed tester felt frustrated by this model's high arch that will not break into a flatter foot. We recommend trying this model on before you purchase. 

Despite some debate about whether or not the Chaco Z/Cloud's sole was optimal for a broad enough swath of users, our tester unanimously declared the Chaco's strap system as one of the most comfortable in the test. 


The stiffness of the sole was advantageous when it came to the stability of the shoe. The footbed securely cups the outside of the heel and supports the arch (for better or for worse…). Users agreed that the toe loop (which is absent from some Chaco models) did provide more stability for the sandal, as it eliminated the possibility of your foot sliding forward. The heel-toe drop of the shoe was more significant than most of the other sandal models we tested. This spec was unimportant to some testers and unwelcomed by others. It gave the heel of the shoe a particularly clunky, insensitive feeling. 


The Manual Features Chaco

The days are finally starting to feel a little longer and warmer, so that can mean only one thing: spring outdoor adventuring. Whether you’re hitting the local river to paddle board or heading to the beach to catch the surf, this spring it’s time to upgrade your shoreline kit. Two of our favorite brands, Chaco and United By Blue put together a small collaboration collection to do just that. We’ve been big believers in Chaco’s river sandals for a long time. The webbing uppers and Luvseat footbed they’re known for have been staples for decades among river guides, desert hikers, and dirtbag hippies everywhere

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The secret is in the simplicity. Easy adjustment, comfortable wearing, and classic design are all hallmarks of every pair of Chacos. It’s not uncommon to see a pair last the better part of a decade of hard use. The Chaco x UBB Sandals  keep to that award winning formula, with a limited edition webbing pattern. The Z2 style means you get a snug big toe loop that easily slides tighter for a custom fit. Overbuilt Vibram soles are incredibly durable, and have great grip – perfect for wading through rivers with your fly rod, or spending an afternoon on your paddle board.


Smartwool: "One of Best Wool Brands"

For those who haven’t found wool and incorporated it into their daily, year-round life, we recommend making a change. The best part is, it’s never too late to start loving wool. Dubbed as “nature’s own tech fabric,” the wool comeback dates back to the last couple decades, dissolving any preconceived notions that wearing wool is nothing more than an itch-filled experience. Frankly, it’s time to forget about those sweaters your grandmother made for you.

Smartwool — a brand from Steamboat Springs, Colorado — has been in the wool-making business for an astounding 23 years. Easily identified by its logo of a happy person wearing socks, its designs lend themselves to a broad customer base with wearable and almost lifestyle-driven styles. However, the company does produce more technical pieces, like Conrad Anker’s Ph.D. mountaineering socks, for hard-core users. Recently, it also started using wool as insulation rather than just a baselayer.


Smartwool Featured in Business Insider

Picking out a pair of socks is one of the most menial tasks we can think of, but it matters — especially when you're going hiking. Choose the wrong ones, and your feet will be soaked in sweat and covered in blisters.

If you're looking for a new pair for your next outdoor adventure, you should pick up one made of wool. According REI, wool is the most popular natural sock material, because it's warm, cushioning, and retains warmth when wet. 

Since its inception in 1994, Smartwool has specialized in making comfortable, versatile wool socks and accessories, and its hiking socks are some of the best ones money can buy. Each pair is made with merino wool that keeps your feet dry and regulates your body temperature, and isn't itchy. Each pair comes with a flat knit toe seam and extra support around the arches, so you'll stay comfortable as you're trekking through peaks and valleys. 


Smartwool Using Data to Improve Women's Line

“It’s interesting—not what you would expect,” murmurs Sue Jesch, Smartwool’s design director. The diagrams scattered across the table before her look like pages from Gray’s Anatomy, with front and side profiles of men and women painted with blotches of color. Some pages map out sweat zones. Others depict variations in temperature. “Women run pretty hot in their top half,” says Jesch. “Maybe that’s a childbearing thing. Nature wants to keep that womb warm.”

In 2011, VF Corporation, the parent company of Smartwool and The North Face, commissioned a 1,200-person study examining how women and men respond to exercise in hot and cold temperatures. Sensors on subjects’ skin recorded surface temperature and perspiration rates, while questionnaires determined where on their bodies subjects thought they ran hot and cold, so researchers could compare perception against reality.

Turns out women run warmer than they perceive. The study found that in winter, women’s coldest zones are the backs of our hands, our glutes, our outer arms, and, oddly enough, our kneecaps. Our upper backs, calves, collarbones, and pelvis actually emit lots of heat during stop-and-go, cold-climate activities like skiing. During hot-weather exercise, women’s legs are markedly cooler than their upper bodies, while men are more evenly balanced. And women’s feet are always colder than men’s, regardless of the outside temperature.


Powder Reviews SmartWool’s Double Corbet 120 Hoody

The weather in my Colorado hometown is unpredictable. I saw it snow on the 4th of July once. Such is life in the mountains where we always say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” Because it’s guaranteed to change.

SmartWool’s Double Corbet 120 Hoody is ideal for varying conditions. On my most recent trip back home, I was up early to beat the crowds up one of my favorite trails. Temps were low despite the bright sky overhead, and this jacket’s wind protection held up extremely well. It didn’t whip in the gusts like a traditional windbreaker shell, and in typical Smartwool style, it was extremely cosy. With the hood up and toggled down, I was perfectly cocooned and protected from the blustery winds outside.


SmartWool’s warmer weight insulation, 120g of SmartLoft wool, was plenty warm while the Merino lining kept my body temperature from spiking when I started to warm up on the uphill. Merino is also great for managing moisture, which is a nice way of saying that it keeps you from stinking like cold sweat.


Fjällräven-backed Lake District campaign

An outdoors brand has enlisted two mountain luminaries to help promote Lake District businesses in their winter campaign.

Fjällräven is sponsoring Lake District hoteliers’ Reveal the Real Lake District promotion, highlighting the fact that the national park is open for business, despite last winter’s floods.

The Scandinavian brand has enlisted acclaimed film-maker Terry Abraham to produce a series of short videos of mountaineer Alan Hinkes, Fjällräven’s brand ambassador, out and about in the area.

Visitors to Lake District Hoteliers Association businesses are also in with a chance of winning a day on the fells with Hinkes, the only Briton to have summited all 14 of the world’s 8,000m mountains.

A Fjällräven spokesperson said: “A true hub for outdoor-lovers, the Lakes are widely renowned for their breathtaking fells, charming towns and stunning vistas.

“A joint campaign by over 50 of the area’s hotels and attractions, the LDHA’s Reveal the Real Lake District campaign will see many of the region’s private businesses working together to spread the word about what the Lake District has to offer.


Fjällräven Strengthens Sales Structure to Support Strong Holiday and 2017 Forecasts


Specialty Account Sales Manager & Expanded Sales Force Added to North American Team
(Boulder, CO) October 6, 2016 – Swedish outdoor brand Fjällräven announces key investments to its support and management teams to cater to the brand’s rapidly expanding outdoor specialty account base. The appointments of Seth Quackenbush as specialty account sales manager and the addition of Mountain Source sales agency to the Rocky Mountain region will enhance all aspects of Fjällräven’s commitment to strategically grow and support this important channel. These appointments also allow Crystal Haselton to assume an elevated role as a key account manager for the brand, focusing her time to grow and manage the interface between specialty and larger format accounts. Quackenbush and Haselton will report directly to Nathan Dopp, president at Fjällräven North America. Additional investments are being planned as Fjällräven prepares to meet demands of strong holiday and early 2017 forecasts.
“We continue to see strong brand momentum in North America and we are excited to welcome Seth and the Mountain Source team to the Fjällräven family as we head into our priority sales season,” said Nathan Dopp, president of Fjällräven North America. “We have built our team with some of most respected individuals within the outdoor industry and working together we will continue to drive the brand forward while creating an engaging experience for our retailer partners and customers.”

Seth is a veteran of the action sports and outdoor industries and most recently served as the global sales and marketing director at Proof Eyewear. In this role, Seth oversaw all sales and distribution initiatives across domestic and international markets. Seth brings additional experience from past positions at Nitro Snowboards & L1 Outerwear, Ride Snowboards and K2 Sports, where he served as national sales director, assistant sales manager, and customer service manager, respectively.

Speaking to his appointment, Seth states, “The product, passion and drive for excellence at Fjällräven are second to none. I am incredibly proud to join this talented team and continue to grow the brand’s strong base of specialty dealers.” 

Mountain Source is an experienced sales group that represents a premier roster of outdoor brands to over 450 active retail accounts throughout the Rocky Mountains region. Mountain Source’s team of sales professionals will support Fjällräven’s quick-paced North American expansion in Colorado, Montana, Utah, Wyoming and Southeast Idaho, while upholding the brand’s commitment to providing top-level customer service to its specialty retail account base.

“We foresee a tremendous opportunity for growth in our Rocky Mountain territory,” adds RJ Guiney, managing partner at Mountain Source. “Fjällräven is an iconic brand with a rich European heritage that demonstrates untouchable functionality, durability and dependability, and we enthusiastically welcome them to our portfolio.”

In 1960, Åke Nordin founded Fjällräven in his basement in the Swedish town of Örnsköldsvik. Since then, Fjällräven has made a commitment to high quality and functional design, while staying true to its mission of developing timeless and durable outdoor equipment and apparel, acting responsibly towards people, animals and nature and inspiring people to get outside. Today, the company has presence in over 30 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit

Footage from our photoshoot in Chile.

Fjallraven: Swedish Gear Manufacturer Brings Tradition to the States

 As soon as I saw the double-barrel shotgun, I knew Fjällräven was 0n the right track. The start of a hike through some of Colorado’s most beautiful backcountry wouldn’t be the same without a shotgun start.

I was at the North Canadian trailhead, near Walden, Colorado, for the inaugural Fjällräven Classic USA, a three-day, 20-mile backpacking trip. The idea was simple: find 20 stunning miles of hiking trail and invite friends to come along for the trek. The company would provide food and water along the way and offer a shuttle service from Denver and Boulder to the trailhead. All I had to do was pack a backpack and join them.

At the trailhead, Carl Hård af Segerstad, brand communications manager at Fjällräven, addressed the crowd of hikers. A tan, well-built man with a thick, full beard, Carl looked like he was born to wear the company’s clothing. A few words of welcome in Swedish, followed by the shotgun blast, and the first of three waves of hikers was off.

Fjällräven launched its first Classic in Sweden 12 years ago. Since then, more than 2,000 people from around the world have traveled to Swedish Lapland every year to hikethe 112-kilometer Kungsleden trail. The folks at Fjällräven hope this first U.S. hike will evolve into a similar tradition. The goal is to get novice backpackers on their first overnight. The $200 registration fee covers food and water on the trail, plusbeerand a barbeque at the end. And, of course, the ease and camaraderie of hiking with more than 100 new friends.


Klean Kanteen Featured in Business Insider

I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in saying that I’m tired of paying so much for my coffee, and for many, either making their coffee at home or at work has become a much more financially viable solution.

If you’re going to go this route though, there’s one important investment you must make: buying a quality travel mug.

Choose the wrong one and you may find yourself spilling lattes across your keyboard or discover that your coffee has adopted a bit of a metallic taste.

I asked a trusted expert for his recommendation for on-the-go coffee drinkers. Paul Toscano is a connoisseur of all things coffee as well as the chief marketing officer of Joyride Coffee, a company that specializes in cold brew kegs. He’s helped us out with some great coffee recommendations in the past, so the last time we spoke, I asked him if he had a go-to travel mug for when he was taking his brew for the road.

"After having many run-ins with sub-par travel mugs, the only ones I use anymore are fromKlean Kanteen," Toscano told Business Insider. "Just make sure if you're driving with it, you get the cafe cap, which is far better than the screw cap, in my opinion. The stainless steel interior is also made for hot drinks, instead of plastic, and feels much more solid than flimsy plastic mugs."