Baffin gets a foot in the door on Main Street
February 16, 2010
Baffin footwear can be found in many retail stores including REI and Sportsman’s Warehouse. There’s only one Baffin store in the world, however, and it’s at 751 Main Street.
The Ontario-based company wanted to raise the profile of its brand in the United States and decided to do it through a retail store where every product it offers could be on display and it could control the presentation.
The beauty of the concept, explained manager Rick LaBelle, is even if a window shopper comes in, looks around, but doesn’t buy anything, they still walk away with a better understanding of the company and its offerings.
Where is the best place in North America to get high-quality winter footwear noticed? The company decided it was Park City. People come here from all over the world and they care about fashion and quality, LaBelle said.
Baffin’s product line is for walking, snowshoeing, snowmobiling the tag line is "polar proven" from founder Paul Hubner who designed the boots for polar exploration.
The company will also roll out a line of apparel by next season, LaBelle said. It plans to produce and sell everything one would need for polar exploration. The idea is if it works there, you can trust it will work anywhere.
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"If it’s proven in those environments, then it’s definitely going to work on a snowy night walking up and down Main Street," he said.
The footwear is well distributed nationally, but each store that orders from them only carries a fraction of their products. This flagship store on lower Main Street introduces people to everything the company offers, so it’s the perfect place to show off what the company is doing with apparel, he explained.
LaBelle is himself a Utah native. He grew up in Bountiful and attended the University of Utah. For the last 15 years he’s run a sporting goods company out of Driggs, Idaho that carried Baffin boots. Knowing his familiarity with the Utah snow sports scene, the company asked if he’d run the flagship store and he jumped at the chance to move back, he said.
"I was ready for the next chapter," he said.
Like the luxury hotel brands, Baffin is betting on Park City getting better recognized for its close proximity to a metropolitan area. It’s a happening town that gets visitors from nearby areas as well as internationally, he said.
What sets Baffin apart is its design, he said. Since opening during Christmas week, the store’s best seller has been an attractive pair of women’s boots. The pairs for men and women designed for sub-zero temperatures are also light-weight, he said.
Most are pac boots footwear with a removable booty. In addition to spongy padding that allows air to insulate the foot and fabrics that pull moisture away from the body, the insides are coated with an aluminum membrane to trap heat. using quality instead of quantity lining, Baffin creates boots that are lightweight, watertight and comfortable.
"When your feet are cold, then you’re done. You can’t put them in a pocket to warm them up," he said.
In addition to boots, the store sells clogs and slippers. Come summer, LaBelle will offer sandals and other warm-weather footwear from Baffin.
Not prepared to fit boots into your luggage? LaBelle said they ship to anywhere in the country. And since many visitors come unprepared for slushy or icy conditions, he’ll even let customers bring the boots back in after wearing them around in Park City to ship home.
751 Main Street #102
In the Caledonian Building