Since 1974, climbers and skiers have been outfitted at North Conway, New Hampshire’s International Mountain Equipment, an outdoor specialty shop in the center of town. This winter, IME will undergo a complete renovation in partnership with Mammut Sports Group USA, to create a strong presence for the Mammut brand.

Just minutes from Cathedral and White Horse Ledge climbing destinations, the store better known as IME has traditionally served as a gathering place for the local climbing community, command central for the area’s Mountain Rescue Service, and home to the International Mountain Climbing School. Mammut’s overhaul of the shop will reflect IME’s heritage, offering customers an environment that encourages shopping, browsing, studying guidebooks, and exchanging tall tales of recent climbing exploits over a cup of coffee. The build-out will include a Mammut Lounge complete with bouldering pad couches, a Swiss coffee station, audio and video entertainment center featuring a flat panel TV set in a granite hearth, and a wide assortment of Mammut alpine outerwear, clothing, and climbing gear.

While the shop’s new appearance will reflect the Mammut partnership by highlighting the brand’s identity, IME will continue to feature and support many other brands, including Black Diamond, Grivel, LaSportiva, Patagonia, Petzl, and others. “By no means is this a mono-brand strategy,” said Jeff Cunningham, National Sales Manager for Mammut Sports Group USA. “IME will continue to honor the brands that have supported its success through the years, and will continue to offer their customers a broad selection of premium brands.”

“This really comes from a long-standing relationship between IME and the Mammut brand,” said Rick Wilcox, the shop’s proprietor since 1979. “Mammut has been a strong wholesale customer here for over twenty years. It’s the perfect fit for us, and for the Mammut brand. As a specialty retailer, we’re able to communicate and sell products and brands with a level of sophistication needed to explain why certain gear and apparel is state-of-the-art and will meet the needs of the specialty customer. It’s a win-win-win, for us, for Mammut, and for our customers who come from our community and every major city in the Northeast.”

In April 2006, Mammut USA launched its first shop using this concept at the downtown Burlington, Vermont, Climb High retail store. Mammut USA intends to partner with two more retailers in 2007 and expanding its retail partnership initiative over the next five years. While Mammut has pursued a mono-brand strategy in the EU with a flagship store in Prague, Mammut USA intends to work with each retail partner to develop concept shops that compliment the individual feel of each store.

“By no means are we dictating the rules and forcing the dealer to carry product that does not fit with their identity and strategy,” said Cunningham. “Through continued analysis and refinement to our current concept stores, we will find the right elements for success to bring to other partners as we continue this strategy in 2007, 2008 and beyond.”