The Outdoor Industry is really going to feel this one.
As for BPL, we are fortunate enough to have diverse sources of revenue and are not as dependent on gear sales as some of the other manufacturers/retailers out there.
I expect to facilitate some serious change here at BPL in the coming weeks to brace for the recession. I do not expect to dilute our focus, mission, or desire to serve our niche market.
Our core product, and core customer, is our online subscriber. You can do your part to help us through it by renewing your online subscription!
And yes, we have lots of new products in the queue:
1. Lightweight Merino Hoody. To be delivered in November. I wore the final production prototype on the WT3 course and loved it. Combined with either a wind shirt or rain jacket, it allowed me to pretty much make no layering adjustments across the very wide gamut of conditions we faced.
2. Cocoon '09. New insulation - this time our own. Higher clo/oz than PL, PG, or CS. We're pretty stoked about this one. Skurka and I wore prototypes on the WT3 course, and I used one of the new quilts. Amazing stuff.
3. Oh and bivies are coming back just after the first of the year in completely retooled style: side zip, a sub-1-oz/yd2 silicone-nylon floor (no more crinkly spinnaker or poorly durable cuben fiber!), and an even lighter top breathable top fabric.
4. We're in the early phases of some great UL full-zip, rain jackets ... sub-1-oz/yd2 silnylon tarp shelters (again: no crinkly spinnaker, no poorly durable cuben) ... and ... a line of UL packs. These products should see the light of day in mid-09 with full prototypes and perhaps an early test run for you uber-enthusiasts...
5. We are launching a Wiki and a brand new site Search Engine in the next several weeks, retooling the website, and the big '09 initiative: redoing the forums. Lots of change on the forefront at BPL.com.
6. A more focused WT school, with the introduction of WT2 to the program in summer '09.
Ending the consumption binge is necessary if we as customers are going to focus our spending on what we want/need the most. And what we want/need the most are those things that contribute to our life satisfaction. Backpacking is pretty cheap entertainment even if the gear can sometimes be expensive. Remaining engaged in an internet community of enthusiasts, going out and enjoying the woods year-round, and being extremely fastidious about where you spend your gear dollars: there's a lot of joy in that.
The GREAT thing about a tanking economy is that it allows a business like us to refocus and return to our core customers rather than chase after the mass revenues being sliced and diced by the bigger companies. There is mutual loyalty here, a great community, and at some point, that has to be enough, no?