Month: April 2020

The current sales model is broken. It really hasn't adapted. And small outdoor retail brands are always last out of the bag if even mentioned at all. So many traditional sales reps are based on schedule and ROI and that's why a lot of these brands just really never get a chance” – Lauren Web, Bullish Endurance

photo of Lauren Webb
Lauren Webb

Bullish Endurance describes their solution for last out of the bag Outdoor Retail Brands.

We work with small outdoor retail brands on their marketing and sales solutions. There are so many great companies, that really don't have the bandwidth or the budget to be able to have an in-house sales team or a big marketing campaign budget. We're here to share their story and fill that role.

We work with the Outdoor Retail brands to come with campaigns and activities to execute.

We attend outdoor retail events, consumer events, it just really depends. Every company is different and everywhere they see their customer is different, whether it's a consumer or retailers. So we just really get to know the customer and how best to give them their best return on investment.

How do you create and execute a solution for a last out of the bag Outdoor Retail Brand?

We communicate. They know what we do best and they know what they do best. And by collaborating and getting to know what and where their best return on investment is we build a solution for the customer that fits their needs. Maybe they need exposure in a certain area. For example a lot of the West Coast outdoor retail brands that maybe you and I have relationships with because we were based on the West coast but in the Southeast, nobody's ever heard of them.

Photo by Tom Conway on Unsplash

What kind of Outdoor Retail Brand Solutions do you create? Is it different per brand, different per shop? Is it all bespoke stuff?

Things like going to outdoor retail events for some lead generation at a trade show that they may be interested in, but don't have the support staff to be able to do that. Or attending consumer events to build the brand and engage with their direct to consumer. Maybe it's a little bit more of a tactical brand that's looking for some connection with some outdoor retailers because, you know, we have great retail and event partners nationwide. Tt just really depends on the company. Some companies prefer the traditional retail model, some are happy working with distributors and the distribution model. So we basically connect them with partners and increase exposures. We just do it all.

What are some of the results you've achieved for Outdoor Retail Brands and Retailers

Increased sales and we've been able to showcase great outdoor retail brands that make sense for our retailers. We're able to share their story. And I think that that's the biggest thing. There are so many brands that retailers might have seen through Instagram or on social. So we're able to connect those partners.

What has been the response from Outdoor Shops and Brands?

The biggest thing is that brands are just looking for a solution. This is what has really resonated. Outdoor Retail stores want to hear about any product or a new approach, as long as it's cost-effective and has a customer for them. Since we're compensated by the solution package and not necessarily going in with a bag of 15 lines and maybe we get into the last few, the retailer isn't constantly being sold. We're working on whatever solution works best for them. So a better relationship is being formed through the retailer and the brand and our agency. This collaboration being formed. At the end of the day creating collaboration between small brands and retailers is the overall solution. That’s great!

How can folks follow up with you?

You can check out our website at or contact us via email at

Other things we talked about

Zoic Clothing

Lizard Skins

Moon Sports USA

Huma Gel

Orange Seal

Afton Shoes

Favorite Gear under $100 Zoic Piper Jersey

Moon Sports Headlamp

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He began his outdoor career in the '60s working for Dick Kelty, he started a couple of outdoor businesses with his brother, was an executive with VF for quite a few years, has taken numerous adventures near and far with his wife Katie and is now helping small businesses navigate these challenging times. Jim Thomsen discusses the current business environment in this pandemic and offers advice and strategies for taking action.

the most critical thing that you should be doing right now is conserving cash and make sure you save that cash.

An photo of US Dollar bills, small business cash
Photographer: Sharon McCutcheon | Source: Unsplash

You're helping a lot of small business owners sort through the SBA programs, how did you get involved with the SBA?

The Small Business Development Center has locations all over the country funded by the SBA. What they offer is in normal times is really excellent business consulting. They'll help you do business plans and cash flow statements and they have experts in all the offices to help you. If you wanted to work out a social media program or marketing plan, finances, they have people who specialize in that. Not just SBA loans but all kinds of different financing. And the work that the small business development centers do is totally free to businesses.

I had known about it but never really worked with it. It's a super great group of people and every business should sign up with them because you don't have to listen to anybody. You could ask them anything. They have all kinds of resources and it's 100% free.

The group in central California also includes the Eastern Sierra. Since the main offices are in Bakersfield, Inyo and Mono county are not a convenient place for them to come over. But Once a year they do a big economic conference here explaining different offerings that they have. At this last one, they asked me to be a speaker there because they wanted a section on crowdfunding. I had just done the Kickstarter program for Wilderness Experience, and since I had done it all myself, I learned all the little parts of it. So I was one of the speakers and I got to know the director and a few other people. He kept saying, you know, you would be perfect, you gotta help us over here in Eastern Sierra because we have plenty of small businesses that could use some help. I said, well you know, it sounds perfect.

I helped one store for about an hour or two and was thinking I’m never going to be a very good consultant just because I'm not going to be around. Once we got back from Patagonia, all of a sudden we're stuck. You know, inside our condo with nothing going on and every small business in town is having a problem. So they called and said would you start helping on these? A lot of people are stuck at home with nothing to do right now. And, and I'm busier than I've ever been.

How are you helping, what are you doing with small business owners?

Most of it over this last month has been trying to get the different SBA loans because those are ones that have been pushed. There's a lot of money behind them. The loans are actually really good for businesses but it's still government loans. So it's not easy. It's not something that you could just apply for. So I'm helping the different businesses first understand the different loans and why one may be better for them than another, the good points of them, the bad points of them, and then how to apply and how to get all their information together and get the loan. That's been what I've really spent most of my time doing.

How many different types of loans are available, three or four right?

There's actually more, but there are two main ones and it's the ones you probably, nobody would've ever known before. Now they're in the news a lot. One is called the economic injury disaster loan. It's actually part of the SBA disaster program, which normally is used after an earthquake or a hurricane and they come in and help rebuild. They use that same program for this, except the record number of loans previously was I think for Katrina. They had 11,000 applicants over a three day period. This one they had 3 million in four days. So when people say, Oh, it's impossible to deal with them, you can't thru. They probably were unprepared for that.

The other one is the payroll protection plan. And that's to try to keep businesses paying their employees. From a government point of view, it's goal is to keep people from getting laid off and collecting unemployment. From the business perspective that allows them, if they've got good employees, to keep those people. Keep paying them, if they offer health insurance keep that going. If they get the money and actually keep people employed and paid, the loan is 100% forgiven.

And some businesses, like one of the ones I’ve worked with, at one of his locations he was trying to do some remodeling inside and it was always a problem cause they were open. Now he has two of his employees working, doing work inside rebuilding one of their buildings. There are two people in there, they can make it safe and no problem. He's actually getting value out of the employees while paying them. I've got a couple of other ones that have young employees that are here in Mammoth because they want to ski and play. They are really good at computer things and setting up web sites and things. So they're getting a lot of work from these guys, helping them finally get a good website, which they'd never had before.

Small Business Restaurant closed sign - stay safe
Photographer: Kelly Sikkema | Source: Unsplash

What should small business owners be doing now besides trying to get loans?

To me, the most critical thing that you should be doing right now is conserving cash and make sure you save that cash. That means calling everybody you owe money to every payment you have and trying to get them to either, defer the payments or forgive some or to give you longer terms or something. I know it's really hard and I've had retail stores where I've had trouble paying bills. It's hard calling people, but you just have to do it. At least at this time, nobody's going to ask you what really happened cause they know what happened, right?

The second most important thing tied in with that is to do a true cash flow statement. Something that I always tell everybody in business that you have to do. Because that's the critical thing. Keep your cash flow statement updated as things change. So you know what position you're in and now it's more critical than ever. It is really hard to guess what your revenue is going to be this month or next month. But you should be able to get to the point where you have an idea of what money you're going to have going out. The first time you do a cash flow statement, it's not going to be accurate, but you should be updating that every few days just if nothing else. It makes you think about your business.

Things We Talked About

Small Business Development Center

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (currently it is closed as of 4/26, but should reopen sometime, hopefully soon)

Payroll Protection Plan Loans

Eastern Sierra businesses to sign up with the Small Business Development Center

Jim LinkedIn: James Thomsen LinkedIn Profile

Jim Email:

Wes grew up on a working Cattle Ranch outside Cody, Wyoming. Currently the principal at the outdoor retail shop Sunlight Sports, Co-Founder of the Argot Agency and former president of Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

"They want to be able to tell a story that local Outdoor Retail customers will relate to. That's the whole concept behind the Argo Agency"

Find out more about Sunlight Sports and the Argot Agency here:
Sunlight SportsArgot Agency

view of the Grand Tetons at sunrise
Photographer: Jesse Gardner | Source: Unsplash

You have a wide range of experience in the outdoor retail space. Tell us about a little bit about your background.

I do have a wide range of experience. My first formal job in the outdoor industry was here at Sunlight Sports. Cody was the nearest big town to the ranch. After I graduated from college, I came in for an outdoor retail summer job because I had purchased stuff here before. I wound up staying and then, a year later or so the woman who owned Sunlight with her husband . . . her much younger sister came back from college in New Zealand and I wound up getting married to her. So yeah, I kinda got into the family that way.

How did the Argot Agency come about?

Argo is something that's a little bit newer. Argo agency is a specialty agency that works on building out bespoke marketing programs between Outdoor Retailers and brands. These retailers have been identified as key outdoor retail specialty accounts by the brands. And obviously, from my background, I really believe in the power of specialty outdoor retail.

We've worked with quite a few brands in the outdoor industry. When people go into a specialty outdoor retail shop, there's kind of this ambiance and Summit Hut is a great example. You go in there and it is definitely an Arizona outdoor store and they sell snake gaiters and they've got cactus on the wall. It's not, you know, it's not a Pacific Northwest outdoor retail store. And you know, brands want to tell great stories that resonate with customers. They want to be able to tell a story that local Outdoor Retail customers will relate to. That's the whole concept behind Argo.

Tell our listeners how Argo works with outdoor retail brands and stores to execute these campaigns.

So we go in and we actually customize it for every single outdoor retail shop. The vast majority of retailers that we work with, we do a photoshoot with the brand. Then we create brand signage and pop and everything in the store for the brand. So for example with Summit Hut, when we did the signs it was pictures of people in the mountains right outside of Tucson. The fonts and the colors and everything was localized but it was very much a Nemo branded campaign.

view of an Arizona Sunset
Photographer: Emily Campbell | Source: Unsplash

What suggestions or advice do you have for folks wanting to get into the outdoor retail biz? Or grow their career if they're already in the biz.

I think that the outdoor retail industry, even though it's gotten bigger and there are big multinational corporations involved, it is a passion industry. Very few people are in the outdoor industry because this is the only job they can find right? They're here because they care about it. And I think my one suggestion I would give to people is I'd wear your passions on your sleeve a little bit more, whether it's for your job or for the outdoor activities that you enjoy. I think we all respond to that and find it a positive thing. And we like being around people who are passionate about something. I think in your career if you can be passionate about your job and passionate about your activities, other people in the outdoor industry are more inclined to help you with your career.

Things We Talked About

Sunlight Sports

Argot Agency

Summit Hut

Nemo Equipment

Grassroots Outdoor Alliance

Cody, Wyoming


Favorite Outdoor Gear Under $100

Dana Design Bangtail hip pack

Espro Coffee


Outdoor Retailer Banner

Do your job well and understand where it fits in the big picture of the industry

Connect with Wes- Argo Agency, Linkedin

Published with StoryChief

The man behind Mystery Ranch outdoor packs, Dana Gleason, has seen many pack trends and brands come and go during his forty years of designing and sewing outdoor packs. Several of the brands were his own, including Kletterwerks, which he started as a young ski and climbing bum in 1975, later revived by Dana’s son in 2012. In the late 70s and early 80s, Dana and business partner, Renee Sippel-Baker, threw their creative energy into Mojo Systems and Quest camera bags. Dana’s namesake brand, Dana Design was established in 1985 quickly becoming the outdoor packs to trust for uncompromising durability and a comfortable carry among mountaineers and backpackers. As is often the case with entrepreneurial brands, cash for growth was needed and Dana and Renee ended up selling off their interest in each of those brands. In 2000, after some time off, Dana and Renee once again crafted a small selection of durable packs for a new endeavor, Mystery Ranch.

“The fact that we’ve succeeded in this is more than luck. ‘Luck’ consists of holding on to the good stuff and letting go of the bad,” explains Dana as he recounts his history building outdoor packs. After 40 years, Dana has observed dozens of load-carrying systems come and go. He’s seen trends like the superlight movement catch the interest of consumers and he’s seen the pendulum swing in the opposite direction for professionals whose highest priority is a comfortable carry. As the majority of US factories were shut down, and production moved overseas, Dana has observed quality become inconsistent. He’s seen fabrics and materials evolve from the original thick rust Cordura to the high tenacity lightweight versions available today. All this experience has found significance in the new 2016 Mystery Ranch outdoor packs, which like all of Dana’s packs are Built For The Mission.

view of outdoor camping
Photographer: Lionello DelPiccolo | Source: Unsplash

How did You get interested in the Outdoors

It was definitely as a kid and I have to thank my parents. It wasn't purely backpacking, I was raised just outside of Boston and my parents who were florists had their own independent business, a flower shop. They always took time off in the summer, which actually as florists is easy to do. It's a slow time of the year and we would go up to New Hampshire and camp in all sorts of places. For the most part, we were dragging a tent camper and we'd be up there a couple of weeks at a time and doing all sorts of day trips, climbing Mount Washington or Mount Jefferson. It just was normal, very fun. And, then at age 12 they then badly warped me when we did a six week trip across the country, out to the Rockies and then up through Yellowstone. And we got to out with a cousin of mine do some stupid things in the Tetons.

After College, I wanted to stay connected to the outdoors and I had an opportunity to start working at a shop. Admittedly, it was a shop in the Chicago area, which is not exactly what one would think of as, Hey, I'm in the mountains. Right. But basically people in Chicago, they badly need a trip when the opportunity comes up. So, you know, helping out at a shop there, the first year or two got me into what we grandly call show business.

After designing and building outdoor packs for over 40 years, what inspired your first design?

Pain and frustration. I was using the gear of the time and there were some improvements that were clearly needed. I had graduated from using Kelty outdoor packs, and trying to use it for all things including ski touring, climbing and other stuff. And while they are a hell of a pack on the trail, they are a hideous torture machine when it comes to actually trying to do approaches or climb or ski.

I started applying some further thought to that. And this was after I'd been doing a couple of years of mods and custom work and had a decent heavy-duty machine. This was during a time when I was shifting from managing an outdoor store to becoming a sales rep, which was utterly important because you can get great ideas and feedback.

Dana design pack was one of the outdoor packs to have in the eighties and nineties except for the first three years. No one had heard of us. No one wanted to see it, I couldn't get it going in a store, I even tried to hire reps. It was such a unique design.

A person I hired back in 1978 at Kletterwerks as a seamstress that came to work with me and came to become the obvious choice for the manager of the sewing floor. Two years in, we had a rather historic meeting at a picnic table where we had bag lunches and I confessed that “I'm screwing this up. I recognize I'm screwing this up and how do we make this go?” That person's name was Renee Sippel Baker. She then became my business partner through three of these things over the last 40 years.

view of outdoor hiking and camping
Photographer: Arthur Poulin | Source: Unsplash

Mystery Ranch Outdoor Packs has been around for 20 years. What was the inspiration for that brand?

I had no intention of doing an outdoor pack company or even something in the outdoor industry. I still had some sewing machines and my eldest daughter Alice asked me for something that she claimed I hadn't really built during her lifetime, which was a simple hip sack. We had built big, complex ones, ones where you could put 10 kilos on your waist and carry reasonably comfortably, but you needed a few extra straps and you kind of had to operate it. She wanted something simple. So I did three, four days worth of work and it kind of felt cool to be doing something from scratch. I still built something we call lumbar wrap and I handed it to her and she put it on and it worked. And she turned around and looked at me and said, “thanks, dad. That's just what I wanted” with a big smile.

We have some really pretty darn good tricks and the thing going from the birth of Mystery Ranch, which was entirely about getting back into the outdoor industry and working with specialty shops and building outdoor packs that would matter for them.

Advice for someone wanting to get into the other business or grow their outdoor career

First off, working in a retail store. You need to not just get into what you would like, but to see what other people are after and how it is to in fact interact with them. It's really kind of necessary to learn what makes the frog jump.

Welcome to episode 209 of The Outdoor Biz Podcast. Today I'm talking about Fly Fishing, Podcasting, Stewardship and more with Nico Sunseri and Ben King of the BearFish Alliance. Nico and Ben believe that by enabling multilevel stewardship via unified communication channels, it is possible to preserve the integrity, legacy, and future of the Truckee River as a wild rainbow and Brown trout fishery for the community to enjoy and generations to come.

"So here's a little thing about the Truckee River. We've given it a nickname, The Big Two Faced River"

Find out more about the Bear Fish Alliance here:

What are some of the stewardship activities that you guys are working on right now?

Nico- "In early June, and we're having a River Clean-Up in cooperation with Trout Unlimited and The Nature Conservancy".

underwater view of a golden trout
Fly Fishing for Golden Trout, Highway 108

How did you get introduced to Fly Fishing and the outdoors?

Ben-"I surfed my whole life. That includes many trips down to Mexico. My grandpa's the real true outdoors and my dad has same passion. Growing up camping and in the boy Scouts we did a lot of backpacking, hiking, and I just most connected to the Outdoors in so many different ways."

Nico- "I was more of an inland kid growing up in San Dimas, California and started fishing probably about five years old. From the time I could ride a bike after school or before school or in summers I went fishing. A trip to Lake Powell really got me hooked into fishing and it just kinda carried on. The transition to fly fishing didn't really happen, Oh my gosh, I mean maybe about seven years ago."

When Was the first time you went Fishing together?

I introduced Ben to Fly Fishing and to his credit he pays attention. He picked up on some things. I would say within a month of us going out constantly, one day he just geared up and hopped in his car. After a bit, he gives me a call and says "I'm fishing on my own". An hour later he sends me a picture. Probably it was a little Rainbow or Brown or something, but he started Fishing by himself.

Tell our listeners about the bear fish Alliance. How did you, what inspired you to create that?

It kinda came from number one- being self-taught on the river. It’s kind of an enduring hardship, you know, getting into the sport of fly fishing. You go out and see all these people doing it, you're watching all these YouTube videos reading books, and seeing people being successful and that's a lot.

This river is not easy, you basically learn through trial and error. So I was thinking there has to be a way for us to collectively get all this information together and available to people that want to get into the sport. And for people from out of the area. There isn't one single collective place that you can go to in this region to find information on the Truckee River.

There are a few different groups here like trout unlimited, they have a great presence. Nature Conservancy's done a phenomenal job on the Eastern Truckee doing restoration work and a couple of few other groups doing good work. But the challenge was everyone had their own little stake and they have their own communication channels. So I thought well, maybe we could just step in and fill that void.

We came up with the name BearFish Alliance, which gives a historical nod to the Truckee River. During the time of the settlers, the California grizzly was common in this area and the Lahontan Cutthroat trout ran freely between Pyramid Lake and the Truckee River. The Truckee does maintain the propensity to grow very large Brown and Rainbow Trout.

Aerial view of a burrito with salsa.
Photographer: Bret Kavanaugh | Source: Unsplash

So what’s with the burrito part of a fly fishing show?

We like our guests to be comfortable, you know? If you can get in their environment, it relaxes them. Ben and I both were born and raised in Southern California. And you have two main types of burritos, Carnitas and Carne Asada. We also have a Jurassic park scale we use, you must get close to legitimate food poisoning to be considered a real burrito. The only other requirement is the horchata, you know if they have the machine they're legit, if they have the jar, that’s next level. Locally here in the Eastern Sierra up in June Lake near June Lake brewing there's a trailer called Ohanas. It's absolutely the Best burrito in the Sierra. They use pork in that Jurassic Park burrito shell and Wow! It's just an experience. Like everything's wrong about it and you want somebody to drive you home cuz you're going to have a food coma.

Things We Talked About

BearFish Alliance

Burritos, Breaks, and Flies– Podcast

Reno Fly Shop, Reno

Sportsmans Warehouse Reno

Trout Unlimted

The Nature Conservancy

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Ohanas 395 June Lake

Favorite Podcasts

Favorite Outdoor Gear Under $100

Ben-Magnetic Net Keeper

Nico- Quick Silver Sun Hat

Connect with Nico and Ben- BearFish Alliance

Published with StoryChief

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