Kittredge

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Kittredge

Postby kurtbel5 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 10:30 am

I stole this from Ebay and thought it to good to let go (sorry if someone here wrote it)

The story of Kittredge Sports begins in 1963 when Douglas Kittredge of the Kittredge Bow Hut archery store in Pasadena, Calif., decided to “semi-retire” to Mammoth. He acted on his decision early that year, bought a one acre parcel of land on Main Street and built an A-frame building to live in and run a mail order archery supply business out of. But as the summer turned to fall and then winter, Kittredge began to have unexpected visitors.
“People kept knocking on the door looking for ski stuff,” said Tom Cage, current owner of Kittredge Sports and Mammoth resident since 1976.
The story was, according to Cage, that enough people came knocking on his front door that Kittredge decided to wall off a 10-by-20-foot section of the front of his house and invest $500 in samples of ski gear, like gloves and googles. That investment netted him $1,000 of profit by the end of that first winter. “That’s when he thought, ‘There might be somthing to this ski business,’” Cage said. The ‘64-’65 winter season marked Kittredge’s first as an official ski gear shop, though Cage believes the store didn’t get into the ski rental business until 1967. He noted that the oldest pair of rental skis found in storage in the store are from 1973.

In those days, Main Street Mammoth Lakes looked a lot different than it does today. For starters, the reason people began knocking on Kittredge’s door was that there was no other sport shop in town, aside from on the Mountain itself. It wasn’t until the late 60s and early 70s that sport shops such as the Breeze, the Outfitter, Cornice, Alpine Sport Shop and Fuzz’s Place came into being, followed later by Sandy’s, the Ski Renter and the Ski Surgeon, which popped up in the mid to late 70s. Around 1978, Kittredge sold one-third of his business to Alan Langmuir. Langmuir had the nickname of “Uncle Al, the kiddies’ pal” because of his love of children and familes, which began the store’s Families First program of customer service and special deals for young skiers. In 1986, Kittredge sold another third to Johan Lau and Langmuir sold his third to four others; Lonnie Maurice, Bill Cox, Bob Wagner and Rubarb Marcillin. In this configuration, Maurice was the General Manager, Cox ran hard goods, Wagner ran the rental department and Marcillin ran the repair shop. Kittredge retained his one third of the business all the way up until 1991 when Cage and partners Joe and Darlene Yaeger bought the entire business. “The corporate name is still Kittredge Archery Company with the dba [doing business as] Kittredge Sports,” Cage said. When Cage and the Yaegers bought the business, it was facing a tough year. They had overbought inventory and used up most of their equity, Cage said. It wasn’t a strong enough business to support the six owners and their families.
“That was the year of the Miracle March,” Cage remembered. It snowed 197 inches in the month of March that season, making it a doubly memorable year for Cage.

Same name, same building
Kittredge Sports may very well be the oldest continuously operating, still-in-the-orginal-building, retail business in town.
Among Cage, Joe Yaeger and employee Donny Meyer (a resident since the 70s), they could think of no other shop that’s still operating, aside from Mammoth Mountain Ski Area’s Main Lodge facility.
The building itself was added onto over the years, in ’63, ’73, ’78, ’91 and ’97, but the original A-Frame is still what customers walk into when they enter the store.
Cage cited a time when he went under the building to examine the footings and expected to see them 6” x 18”, but to his surprise they were a hefty 18” x 36”. In those days, he reckoned, concrete and timber were cheaper than paying for the labor to fill in a hole that might have been dug too big.
“When Doug built it, he was of old stock, he built it to last,” Cage said.
Though Cage once looked into making improvements, he found the prospect costly for many reasons. For one, to remodel he would have to make the building A.D.A. compliant. For another, the building sits right on the property line. If he tore it down to rebuild, it would have to be set back from the property line.
“I can paint it, carpet it... that’s about it.”
Though Cage acknowledged that he’s thought about having a new, modern building, he has an affection for the “funky, old, rustic, indigenous to Mammoth building.” He acknowledged the sentimental value of the old building, its great location and its easily recognizable A-frame.
“There’s something to be said for things like that.

Over the years
“Kittredge was the first Burton dealer in town,” Cage said. In 1991, when he and the Yaegers bought the business, the store carried Burton snowboards and bindings. One of the first decisions of the new owners was to focus on skis, however, dropping snowboard gear.
“Not one of my smarter decisions,” lamented Cage, noting the continuing growth of snowboarding in a ski resort economy where skiing has leveled off the last five years
When Doug Kittredge officially started, Cage guesses that there may have been three employees. When Cage bought the business in ’91, it had 20 year-round and 40 during the winter. Today, they keep 30 year-round employees and double that for the ski season.
Cage also noted that the 1984-85 season was the end of a cycle. That season, Mammoth Mountain sold more than 1.4 million lift tickets. “There were no value passes, no season passes, these were all dailies.”
In 2005-06, Cage believes that the mountain calculated a similar number, but noted that it took into account value pass scans, season passes, comp tickets and, most significantly, snowboarders.
Based on this, Cage guesses that there are as many as 40 percent fewer skiers today than 25 years ago.
“It makes for a challenging business environment,” Cage said, but commented that the store had survived through good and bad years before. One of its strengths is its longevity. Cage pointed out that many of their returning customers had first come in with their grandparents in the 1960s and now, “45 years later, they’re coming in to get their kids equipment.”
Where are they now?


Doug Kittredge, now in his mid-80s, Cage believes, splits his time between Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Colorado and Auburn, Calif.
Alan Langmuir is the one person whose whereabouts Cage isn’t sure of.
Johan Lau lives in Reno, Nev. and works for a brokerage firm, but he still stops by the store whenever he visits town.
Lonnie Maurice lives in North Lake Tahoe and works for Porter’s Ski Shop.
Bill Cox lives in Crowley Lake and works at another shop in town.
Bob Wagner, who has retired from the U.S. Air Force, continued working at Kittredge Sports until two or three years ago and now lives in Bishop.
Rubarb Marcillin passed away in 2002 at the age of 64. Cage noted that Marcillin had been a longtime employee of the Mountain, working as an instructor and at the repair shop, and had stayed on at Kittredge until the time of his death.
“We’ve kept in touch with all the partners,” Cage said of the previous owners. He recalled the previous transfers of ownership in the store as win-win situations for all involved. “There was always evolution [of the business].”
In that vein, Cage acknowledges that one day he will pass on the store to the next person, someone who would bring in fresh ideas and new energy.
“That’s the way things happen.”

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Re: Kittredge

Postby Wade Phillips » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:57 am

Kurt - Interesting account of Kittredge moving from Pasadena in 1963. We bought a lot of archery tackle from Kittredge in the 1950s & 1960s.

This 1962-63 edition of Kittredge's "Archer's Bible" may have been his last mail order catalog from Pasadena. It's 171 pages of archery tackle rivaled its New Jersey competitor Robin Hood, which had 220 pages in its 1962 mail order catalog.

The image on the cover of 1962-63 "Archer's Bible" is one of the archery related paintings by famous artist Doug Van Howd.

Bob Swineheart's 1970 book, Sagittarius also has the image of the half-horse bowman outlined in gold on its burgundy hard cover, which is covered by another of Van Howd's paintings on the dust jacket.

It is always interesting to see how so many items or events in archery are actually connected by common threads.
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Re: Kittredge

Postby aromakr » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:37 pm

I did business with Doug for many years and became very good friends with his Archery shop manager Bill Krenz. Bill went on from there to Bear archery in Gainsville Florida and since the shut down of Bear, Bill and his wife publish a archery magazine, can't for the life of me remember the name.
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Re: Kittredge

Postby Wade Phillips » Thu Feb 11, 2010 12:49 pm

Bill Krenz is the editor of the magazine "Bowhunt America". Bill and his wife Sherry have published it since 2003.

Last year, Bill sent me a couple of issues in with some trade items.

Bill is a cool guy and knows a lot about vintage archery tackle.
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Re: Kittredge

Postby TimberlineX » Thu Feb 11, 2010 2:14 pm

Thanks kurtbel5. That’s a very cool recap of an old archery company that I was once a part of.

Many moons ago I was a naïve Wisconsin kid fresh out of college with two burning ambitions – to work in the archery industry and to live in the mountains. From what I could see, the one opportunity in the country where I could realize both things was to go to work for Doug Kittredge and the Kittredge Bow Hut in Mammoth Lakes, California.

Mammoth Lakes was a scenic little ski town nestle at 8,000 feet into the Sierra Nevada Mountains about an hour south of Yosemite National Park. At the time, the Kittredge Bow Hunt was one of the largest mail-order archery houses in the country.

I had previously met Doug Kittredge through the Pope and Young Club, and I pursued him like a birddog after a quail until he finally offered me a job as a shipping clerk in his archery operation in the summer of 1976. Within a year, I was running the entire archery operation for Doug and served as the Bow Hut’s General Manager from 1977 through 1985. I’ve got countless fond memories of those years and through Doug was introduced to many of the most influential people in archery at the time, including Fred Bear, Roy Hoff, Earl Hoyt, Jim Easton, Jack Howard, Rube Powell, Hugh Rich, Tom Jennings, Gail Martin, Jim Dougherty and many more. That experience firmly launched my career in archery.

In 1985, Doug sold the archery portion of his Mammoth Lakes operation to a firm in Visalia, California and I moved on to a sales job with PSE in Tucson, Arizona. About that same time, Easton bought a small but respected recurve-oriented company called Hoyt Archery from Earl and Ann Hoyt and moved that business to Salt Lake City, Utah. Easton ran me down in Arizona and subsequently hired me and a few others to get the new Hoyt off its feet. From 1986 to 1994 I served as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Hoyt, building that company up from almost scratch to a real powerhouse in the archery industry. Then in 1994 Bear Archery approached me with an offer I just couldn’t refuse and I moved to Gainesville to become their VP of Sales and Marketing, a position I held until 1998. At that point my wife and I, both weary of the corporate life, broke away and founded our own publishing company, launching a trade (business) magazine called Inside Archery which quickly became the number one trade magazine in the archery industry and later also Bowhunt America, one of the fastest-growing consumer bowhunting magazines in the country.

And all that happened because of the experiences and encouragement afforded me by Doug Kittredge while I worked for him at the Bow Hut all those years ago. I wouldn’t trade those early years in Mammoth Lakes for anything.

I also remember the day when a guy walked in the doors of the old Bow Hut with a pristine 1959 Bear Kodiak that he wanted to trade toward a new bow. I bought that OLD bow from him for $50...and that first, old bow sent me down a path of appreciating and collecting vintage bowhunting gear that still plagues me today!

Bill Krenz
Colorado Springs, CO
If A is success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Family is X. Work in Y. And Z is bowhunting elk.
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Re: Kittredge

Postby aromakr » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:05 pm

Bill:
Nice to see your still kicking! I don't think I've talked to you since Denton Hill several years ago and I got on you for shooting that Bear Signature takedown. Hope all is well.
Bob Burton
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Re: Kittredge

Postby TimberlineX » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:15 pm

aromakr wrote:Bill:
Nice to see your still kicking! I don't think I've talked to you since Denton Hill several years ago and I got on you for shooting that Bear Signature takedown. Hope all is well.
Bob Burton


Bob,

Still kicking and still shooting and hunting with my Fred Bear Signature TD from time to time. Those gold latches really look good on top of the mountain, in the brush and even in the rain. Sometims they even blind the elk so I can get a shot off.

As I remember, you got on me at Denton for shooting my Bear Signature with UGLY arrows...then you made me some gorgeous arrows to go with it. Best wood arrows I've ever shot.

Bill
If A is success in life, then A equals X plus Y plus Z. Family is X. Work in Y. And Z is bowhunting elk.
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Re: Kittredge

Postby bowdoc » Sat Feb 13, 2010 9:07 am

holy smokes what Bob said I remember it like yesterday Bob giving Bill crap and Bill just setting on the bulkhead smiling at everyone....bd
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Re: Kittredge

Postby jmpgfoto » Wed Nov 12, 2014 3:08 pm

Kittredge's Bow Hut was actually in SOUTH PASADENA, not Pasadena. So. Pasadena is a separate city. Back in the 50's & 60's, as youngsters/teens, we often visited the Bow Hut to get archery eqpt and I got my first bow's (Bear Polar/used then a Bear Magnum) from Doug. It was a great place to visit since Doug also employed a number of the notable archery hunters/experts of the time like Jim Dougherty who frequently had articles in the archery magazines of the day. Doug and the others were always helpful with advice on stalking, calling, varmint hunting and just about anything else associated with archery. It was a great loss to the area when Doug decided to relocate the business to Mammoth Lakes, CA. Some years back Doug sold the business to investors but it still bears the Kittredge name but now the focus is on snow sports, skiing, snow boarding, etc. One great thing about the Bow Hut is that it was only a few miles from the big roving and target archery ranges in the Pasadena Arroyo, walking distance in those days so we could stop in at the Hut and then walk or bicycle to the archery ranges for a day of shooting. Those really were the good old days, things were less complicated, no compound bows!
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