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Outdoor gear fixer offers tips on zipper issues

CAMPING — The Gear Gods have smiled on Spokanites who need outdoor technical clothing and gear repaired or personalized.

Since 1997, Penny Schwyn has been humming away on her sewing machines customizing Gore-Text apparel, making ski clothing fit, fixing the holes dogs put in tents — you name it.

In addition to running her business, Specialty Outdoors, out of her South Side home, she also blogs occasionally with helpful tips about gear.



Inland Northwest’s custom ski-makers carve a niche market

TJ Sneva wanted skis that would accommodate the kinds of tricks he and his friends liked to pull on the slopes, and major manufacturers weren’t making them – so he started building them himself. David Marx wanted skis that would work in the “side-country” terrain around Schweitzer Mountain – skis that could handle low-angle back-country touring and uphills, but still float through powder turns on the downhills and inside the resort. Now his 7B Skis has a full line of models for both inside and outside his home ski resort, with demos available on the slopes at Schweitzer.

Caleb Baukol of Big Wood Ski wanted to build elegant, fully customized skis out of hardwoods that could stay stable on the steep, fast slopes of Sun Valley. “This mountain is so steep and so fast and so demanding,” he said. “We have real skiers here that just rip.” All are small ski manufacturers that are part of the craft ski movement, a segment of the ski industry that’s gained such allure that for the first time this year, a portion of the ski industry’s annual trade show in Denver will be set aside for the small ski- and snowboard-makers.

“We’re not trying to take over the ski industry or anything like that,” said Matt Neuman, owner of Ullr Skis, which recently relocated from McCall, Idaho to Sandpoint. “We can’t compete. But more people are becoming conscious of who they’re buying stuff from and where it’s coming from.” You can read my full story here from Sunday’s Spokesman-Review.

Cabela’s to open ‘outpost’ store near Yakima

OUTDOOR RETAILERS – Cabela’s announced this morning it is introducing a new store format that will bring the outdoor sporting goods retailer to Washington Plaza, a shopping center under construction at the former Costco property near Yakima.

The news was reported by the Yakima Herald-Republic.

The Sidney, Neb., company announced the Union Gap store, the first under its smaller "Cabela’s Outpost Store" format, during its fourth-quarter earnings call to shareholders.

Cabela’s plans to open the 40,000-square-foot store by this fall. The Post Falls Cabela's store, by comparison, has 125,000 square feet of showroom space.

Despite Cabela’s popularity, local businesses that have served Yakima Valley’s outdoor and hunting community remain optimistic.

Gary Fairbanks, owner of Fairbanks Outfitters, a fly fishing shop in Yakima, said he can compete on price, noting that he has ordered product for customers at a lower price than listed in the Cabela’s catalogs.

"They have a huge selection," he said. "But (its) prices are quite high compared to mine."

Read on for more details from the Yakima Herald-Republic.

Walking on ice? Boot company gets a grip

WINTER SPORTS — No need to be slip-sliding along all winter.

Korkers, the Oregon boot company that made its name with interchangeable soles for fishermen's wading boots, has diversified into other footwear, including with snowboots that have different traction options, including studded soles for applications such as ice fishing.

Check out this story from the Oregonian.

Cabela’s profits surge after halting promotion

RETAILING – Outdoor equipment store Cabela’s fiscal third-quarter profit rose 65 percent in the period, propelled by the elimination of an unprofitable store promotion and the strong performance of what the company calls its ”next-generation” stores, according to the McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

The Sidney, Neb.-based company, which operates a store in Post Falls, Idaho, earned $35.6 million in the quarter, up from $21.6 million in the third quarter of 2010.

CEO Tommy Millner said the elimination of a store promotion that offered customers a $150 discount on a $500 purchase helped to significantly increase its merchandise gross margins.

Millner said sales of firearms, ammunition, power sports, fishing gear and men’s apparel were strong, while weaker for optics, archery, tree stands and hunting equipment.

One analyst asked Millner what effect slower firearm and ammunition sales might have on the business. Millner said he thought that was going to happen five years ago, but sales remain strong. The company expects that trend to continue next year because it’s an election year.

Field & Stream announces Best of Best hunting gear

HUNTING — Field & Stream magazine has just announced the 27 winners among 150 products it's editors tested for their annual Best of the Best hunting gear roundup.

Here's a sneak peak at the list of top products ranging from bows to trail cams. 


  • Best New Rifle #1: Montana Rifle Co. American Standard Rifle (ASR)
  • Best New Rifle #2: WinchesterModel 70 Safari Express
  • Best New Big-Game Ammo: WinchesterPower Core 95/5
  • Best New Shotgun: Remington Versa Max
  • Best New Shotshell: WinchesterBlind Side
  • Best New Fixed-Blade Knife: Ontario Knife Company Blackbird SK-5
  • Best New Folding Knife: Benchmade 915 Triage
  • Best New UTV: 2011 Can-Am Commander 1000XT
  • Best New ATV: 2012 Kawasaki Brute Force 750 4x4i EPS
  • Best New Trail Cam: Primos Super Model Game Camera and Photo Viewer
  • Best New GPS: Bushnell BackTrack D-Tour
  • Best New Hunting Pack: Cabela’s Bow and Rifle Pack
  • Best New Boots: Magnum USA Sidewinder HPi in MultiCam
  • Best New Outerwear: ColumbiaSportswear Omni-Heat Electric Wader Widgeon Interchange
  • Best New Muzzleloader: Traditions Performance Firearms Pursuit Ultralight
  • Best New Muzzleloader Bullet: PowerBelt AeroLite
  • Best New Binocular: Swarovski CL Companion 8x30mm
  • Best New Spotting Scope: Zeiss Dialyt Field Spotter 18-45x65mm
  • Best New Rangefinder: Leica Rangemaster CRF 1600
  • Best New Scope: Minox ZA5 1.5-8x32mm with Versa-Plex Reticle
  • Best New Handgun: Browning 1911-22 A1
  • Best New Bow: Hoyt Carbon Element
  • Best New Crossbow: TenPoint Carbon Fusion CLS
  • Best New Treestand: X-1 Stand
  • Best New Safety Harness: Tree Spider Speed Harness, Live Wire Descent System
  • Best New Blind: L.L. Bean Stowaway Hunter’s Blind
  • Best New Decoy: Carry-Lite Bob'n Tail Tom Turkey