Our Commitment to Quality Mountain Wear
Every business that produces a product will eventually have to make an important decision. Do you cut production costs in order to reach huge market by selling to traditional retailers, or do you maintain the quality even though it means the size of your market diminishes?
Here at Aspinwall, we recently pondered this. In the end, our core values have determined that we are going to do what is right for you, the consumer, and not what is going to pump more cash into our business. Here’s how it has all shaken down.
The Aspinwall Crossroads
Aspinwall has a goal of providing the highest quality merchandise, at the most affordable prices. Every time the product is moved, there’s a markup on it, so if we include a middleman (such as the big box store), the costs for you (the consumer) keep going up.
We have decided to eliminate the middleman.
As of early in the year 2019, Aspinwall is only available direct to consumer. You will no longer be able to find our high quality Montana shirts, hats, or sweatshirts at stores around the state. Our lifestyle products can be purchased right here on the website, or in our store in downtown Billings, Montana.
The reasoning for this big decision included a whole lot of moving parts, and a whole lot of debate on where the company would go in the coming years. It means that we can continue to offer you the best prices around, and we can continue to expand our product line; such as moving into the realm of performance gear with our Polartec line-up.
The Aspinwall Ascent Polartec Power Stretch
Polartec fabric is designed to ensure that you stay alive while you’re in the back country. This durable fabric, made from a specialized blend of polyester and spandex, fits tight to your body ensuring that your heat stays where it needs to stay.
Don’t tell anyone, but these crew and half-zip performance pieces are modeled after the designs used by biggest brands out there… and they’re half the price.
Because our products are now going direct to consumer, we don’t have to mark them up and sell them to the middleman; the middleman doesn’t have to mark them up again and sell them to you. So now, you get the best quality available, without paying for markups across the board.
The New Model of Retail Sales
The internet has changed the way we shop. For decades the only way to get your product out there was to get it into stores. But now, as the world has gone online, this model of distribution is becoming less and less efficient. And we are seeing it in a number of capacities in different realms of the retail world.
Direct Sales – Direct sales companies keep popping up. The reason: companies have learned that people buy from those they trust. It’s more efficient to have independent sales reps, than to negotiate for shelf space.
Store Brands – Store brands have always existed, but the quality was often lower than the others. That has changed, especially in the world of products. If you head to almost any major retailer, you’re inundated with products made by their brand. They’re high quality, function just as well, and cost half the price.
Direct to Consumer Brands – There are many other brands out there, because it’s easier than ever to get right in front of your customer. Take a look at Red Oxx. A company that we have worked closely with recently. They create the highest quality bags you can imagine, and they’re not found in stores.
Online Middlemen – To reach an even bigger market, many have turned to an online middleman instead of a big store. Marking up the product 5% to sell it on Amazon, Ebay, Etsy, or another online “box store” isn’t nearly as expensive (to the consumer) as it is to sell it on shelves.
You get the idea. As Aspinwall has moved away from the distribution style model, the quality can stay high, the costs can stay low.
What About Specialty Aspinwall Merchandise?
There will be a few exceptions to the “only found in our store” aspect of our new model. All of the merchandise found in our Billings store and on our website will only be found in our Billings store, or on our website. We still have maintained partnerships with the national parks to produce quality apparel for them, and we still have some of the other partnerships on a small scale basis.
These specialty branded items are still out there, but those are the items you don’t find in our store.