Glad To See Herter’s Isn’t Forgotten About In Minnesota’s History

Typically when I land on the Minnesota Historical Society’s blog I expect to see reflections on Minnesota’s involvement in the Civil War, political flashbacks, you know that sort of thing.   Well, imagine my surprise to see a post showing a Herter’s Master Deer Call.   That’s right, if you’ve lived…oh, for let’s say 40 or more years on this earth and consider yourself an outdoorsman…well, there’s a good chance Herter’s has touched your life at least in some small way.

So, it’s only fitting how the Minnesota Historical Society makes mention of this icon of an outdoors store once headquartered in Waseca, Minnesota.   I can only say I was physically at the store once prior to its closing, but long before Cabela’s and Gander Mountain were household names, for most sportsmen the name George L. Herter was truly legendary.   And I would guess that many customers of Herter’s shopped by mail order and not at the store.   When the Herter’s catalog arrived in the mail it was a special day in the household, indeed.

Perhaps one of George L. Herter’s more controversial books, nevertheless it reflects a unique character during a different time in Minnesota’s outdoor history.

If you’ve never had the pleasure of taking a walk back in time you owe it to yourself to click directly to eBay and search for “Herter catalog.”   At most times you will find dozens of old issues still available in collections, some for just a few bucks…but the money is well worth it to see how sportsman gear has evolved over the past 40+ years.

The founder of the store was a real character.   Need some proof of that?   Just take a look at the titles of George L. Herter’s many books he authored.   Unfortunately, I never met the guy, but he was an interesting individual who believe in simple, yet solid advice.   His store was also pretty much built on that same principle, as well.

I would imagine as the generations get older there will come a time when few outdoorsmen, unless they study history, will have any recollection of the Herter’s name.   Oh, type in and it will take you directly to Cabela’s whom I believe purchased the rights several years back.   And yes, even Cabela’s who was once competitors with Herter’s still recognizes the value of selling under the Herter’s name.

So, when you see the Minnesota Historical Society post an iconic image from this great store…yeah, it is sort of a big deal to some of us who are growing a bit older in the tooth.   Many of us have fond recollections of the store and the catalog which was premium in its time.

And you know, there’s also something a bit nostalgic about remembering back to an era when you didn’t have say 200 choices for cold weather footwear and another 50 different options for waders.   Perhaps back when Herters was king the outdoorsmen spent more time worrying about woodsmanship and the quarry they chased…than they now do about all the clothes, gear and technology they take to the woods.

Let’s hear some of your thoughts on what you remember about George L. Herter, the retail store or that glorious mail order catalog.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.

Time The Outdoors Industry Throws Bloggers A Little Meat On The Bone

Having written this blog for what is going on nearly a decade, I feel uniquely positioned to comment on this matter.   Quite honestly, a large segment of the outdoors industry just doesn’t seem to get it.   What am I talking about?   I’m talking about using bloggers as brand ambassadors to help promote their new products and spread the word why other outdoorsmen (aka readers) should consider using their product line.

Case in point.   Recently I received a nice package in the mail from a product manufacturer who shall remain unnamed in this blog post.   The outdoors company doesn’t really matter.   What truly matters is what the package contained.   Did it contain a new product soon to be on the store shelves?   NOPE!   Did it contain a product redesign promising improved performance in the field.   NOPE!   Did the package contain anything of value to this blog’s readers?  Likely NOT!   What did it contain?   SWAG…a fancy way of saying promotional nick-nacks.   A baseball cap, some gloves, some pens…I think you get the picture.

C89qngvxAs bloggers we are constantly on the lookout for content.   You know, the stuff we tend to write about.   If I know a company has an array of cool products and all they send me is a baseball cap, what do they expect out of me?   Seriously, if you want me to test and talk about your product then put the product into my hands.

During the past year I can count on one hand how many outdoors companies have contacted me to give their product a test.   In most of those instances I declined the offer as: #1) I was either not inspired about the product; or #2) the product didn’t really fit my blog’s audience.   In each case I thanked the company for the offer and explained my reasoning to them.

Now mind you when someone sends me a gift—no matter what it is—I don’t want to sound unappreciative.   Yes, the hat and accompanying items was very nice and I will put them to use.   Still, how can these companies be swinging and missing so in the marketing game?   After all, if they really believe in their products doesn’t it stand to reason they need to put them into the hands of people who can expose them and enlighten others to the product’s great benefits?

Bloggers are the perfect ambassadors to promote a product.   They publish on the web which makes what they do very searchable by anyone putting in those key words.   Bloggers are required by the FCC to be forthright and honest in the fact the evaluation was sponsored and accurate to the best of their abilities.   Plus, most bloggers will give products a thorough testing and scrutiny because they realize their reputation is as much as stake just as the product being tested.   By default I believe most bloggers want to be fair and accurate.

So, it really befuddles me why the outdoors industry isn’t doing a better job at understanding bloggers and putting into their hands the sort of tools they need to generate lively, interesting web content.   Oh, sure, when a package arrives in the mail it’s always nice to receive something new no matter what it is.   But, sort of like the dog who usually only gets tossed a bare bone.   Next time leave a little meat on that bone and watch how the dog attacks it with renewed vigor and enthusiasm.

©2013 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.