It’s no longer summer, but we’re still celebrating Casual Friday, so what better time for a little water cooler chatter, right?
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, industry leaders are gathered for the annual National Association of Sporting Goods Wholesalers (NAGW) annual meeting and exhibits. That’s one reason we’ve seen so many new products announced, but it’s also the show where there are fewer media types and more industry insiders.
So…there’s a lot of insider back chatter going one. And here’s some of what we’re hearing from Pittsburgh (other than the city has a lot of good restaurants).
First, where are the button down shirts and blazers? One longtime industry figure says he’s never seen more Brooks Brothers suits. Seems the industry’s buttoned-down and serious at this NASGW, and that’s probably a reflection of the fact there are more big (as in really big) companies in the industry that any time in recent memory. Corporate culture still likes the dressed up style. The fact that SHOT has gotten progressively more casual over the years is one reason I jokingly refer to CEOs in their company regalia as being the latest in “urban camo.”
Another question I’ve heard from more than one source: “where are all the hoodies and t-shirts?” OK, a couple said clothing, but you know what I mean. Apparently there’s a near-absence of apparel- and what one friend calls the “unicorn” of the industry- purses targeted at women who concealed carry.
There are already some solid products in the industry that allow for concealed carry on the body, but purse makers seem stuck as to how to make leather goods fashionable versus mil-spec. There is a big difference.
Whether they manage to figure that one out or not, NASGW 2018 appears to be shaping up as a good show, reflecting a healthy industry. More industry thoughts later….
Meanwhile, out on the water, anglers are speculating on the future of Pure Fishing. Now a designated “surplus” company in the massive Newell Brands portfolio, there’s been a lot of recent speculation over what’s ahead.
We’re not seeing the bobber disappear - yet- but Newell Brands’ filing of an 8-K form with the Securities and Exchange Commission last week seemed to point toward something happening. The 8-K is one of those forms you file when there’s something out of the ordinary coming.
One “potential” name tossed around in the Pure Fishing deal would certainly have put an interesting spin on the company. Earlier this year, American Outdoor Brands (yes, the company formerly known as Smith & Wesson Holdings - NYSE: AOB) indicated a desire to acquire “brands in the fishing realm”. Granted, it would be the equivalent of landing a trophy bass if AOB were to acquire the entire Pure Fishing portfolio, but we’ve been assured that AOB isn’t going after Pure Fishing.
We’re watching, but as is the case in public companies, no one’s talking- with good reason. As Elon Musk’s discovered, the SEC takes loose lips very seriously. Someone leaking word of a deal could be looking at some serious grief. In the meantime, Pure Fishing continues making and selling product.
Florida officials appear to have been overly-optimistic in their earlier assessment that Hurricane Michael had helped break up the latest breakout of Karenia brevis - better known as Red Tide. Now, it seems Indian River County is dealing with an outbreak serious enough to close their beaches.
Earlier this week, Brevard County’s Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, and Cocoa Beach also confirmed their waters having tested positive for red tide -although their beaches are still open. Signage is up to warn people about the outbreak.
Right now, Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough, Pinellas, St. Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, MIami/Dade, Brevard and Indian River counties are all now under states of emergency because of red tide.
Finally, goodbyes to a couple of gentlemen who crossed the proverbial river this week.
A.G. Russell, III, (above) of the eponymous A.G. Russell Knives, died October 12 during surgery. Walter D (Dee) Huddleston (below), former U.S. Senator and Kentucky radio announcer, died Tuesday at his son’s home in Warsaw, Kentucky. Images with permission.
A.G. Russell was one of the best known knife makers in this generation. In fact, Russell was working on knife designs in the A.G. Russell store only two days before he died during what was to be a routine angioplasty. Russell wasn’t just a great knife maker, he was one of those business owners who loved his customers- and saw that affection reciprocated. His family requests that donations be made to military and veterans organizations in lieu of flowers. Services for Mr. Russell will be held on Sunday, October 21 (details at http://www.westfieldchapel.com/book-of-memories/3629481/Russell-Andrew/service-details.php?fbclid=IwAR0d29-WsxZEPXTMmX0nVLWcbk5pxxERDRQXuGwun70QQX6JO_nMgCfe-Eo)
Walter D. (Dee) Huddleston, isn’t one of those names from the outdoors. Huddleston, a two-term United States senator from Kentucky is probably best known as the man Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell defeated in 1984 to begin McConnell’s long Senate career.
But Dee Huddleston’s indirect connection to The Outdoor Wires is undeniable. Before politics, he worked in several Kentucky radio stations - including WLBN, a 1000-watt AM station in Lebanon, Kentucky - my hometown.
That little radio station began my broadcasting/journalism- career. From there, I went on to cover Huddleston and his political career. I visited his Senate office shortly before he left office in 1984, and we laughed about how we’d both wound up in Washington “through no fault of our own other than having some ambition.” The last thing he told me was to “remember who I worked for” - advice that took several years to sink in.
Rest in peace, gentlemen. You’ll be missed.
— Jim Shepherd