Eastern Mountain Sports is moving after the holiday shopping season from its current location at Settlers Crossing in North Conway to the nearby former Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store Route 16, according to company spokesman Kevin Campbell.
Speaking from company headquarters in Meriden, Conn., Campbell said the move is being done in an effort to downsize to a smaller store.
He said EMS will retain all of its services, including its climbing school, but will just be smaller.
EMS is leasing the former Polo property with an option to buy, Campbell said.
“It’s an opportunity for us to own our own real estate so we entered into a lease with an option to purchase,” he said Tuesday.
“We have been in (the North Conway) marketplace for 45 years, and we love our customers there, and they seem to love us. We look forward to being there for many years to come,” Campbell added.
He said EMS will retain all of its existing product lines and is discussing plans to build onto the former Polo store to house the climbing school.
EMS’s lease at its current 20,000-square foot store at Settlers Crossing expires Jan. 31, 2019, said Campbell and Dot Seybold, general manager for Settlers Green OVP Management.
“They have been a great tenant, and we wish EMS well at their new location,” Seybold said last Friday.
She said OVP Management will soon have “an exciting announcement” about a new tenant for the space EMS is leaving. “We wili let everyone know as soon as we get official word,” said Seybold.
EMS has leased the timber-and-glass-fronted store since it was built in 2005-06.
The Settlers Crossing store complex was designed by Prelwitz Chillinski Associates of Cambridge, Mass. That firm also designed Settlers Green Streetside, Settlers Green’s latest complex, and is also the designer of its planned Market Basket store to be built adjacent to Streetside.
The former Polo store at 1642 White Mountain Highway next to Sawmill Lane has sat vacant since Polo Ralph Lauren moved across Route 16 to Streetside in September 2017.
The store that EMS is moving to measures 8,292 square feet. According to the town assessing office, it is owned by Columbia Partners NH LLC of 161 Stillwell Lane, Syosset, N.Y.; the principal contact is listed as Christopher Schmitz, who apparently resides at that address.
EMS sells outdoor equipment and clothing from both name brands and its own EMS line. The company also has EMS Schools that offer classes in rock and ice climbing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, trekking and skiing.
EMS’s North Conway store was originally located in what is now International Mountain Equipment on Main Street in North Conway Village in the early 1970s. It then moved to the bottom floor of the Eastern Slope Inn in the early 1980s before moving to Settlers Crossing.
The business was founded in 1967 in Wellesley, Mass., by two climbers — Alan McDonough, who was running the family hotel chain, and Roger Furst, a lawyer whose office was in the McDonough complex. They targeted the outdoor equipment market in Boston.
The first store on Linden Street in Wellesley carried the Gerry outdoor equipment line as well as downhill skis.
In 1968, the two enterprises merged and built the 1041 Commonwealth Ave. store at 10,000 square feet.
McDonough and Furst sold the company in 1979 to The Franklin Mint, which was acquired by Warner Communications in 1981. Four years later, Warner sold the Mint but retained EMS, subsequently selling it to the American Retail Group owned by the Brenninkmeijer family.
In July 2003, Will Manzer became president and CEO of EMS and shifted the company focus back towards specialty outdoors gear. A new logo, store reorganization and a shift from stores in shopping malls to freestanding community-based stores followed.
American Retail Group sold Eastern Mountain Sports to investors led by J.H. Whitney & Co. in 2004.
Bob Mayerson was announced as new president in March 2010; Manzer continued leading the company.
In 2012, Versa Capital Management bought EMS from J.H. Whitney, and Mark Walsh became CEO. In April 2016, Vestis Retail Group, the Versa Capital-owned unit that owned the Sport Chalet and Bob’s Stores sporting goods chains as well as Eastern Mountain, announced it had filed for bankruptcy protection and reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Vestis said it would reorganize and focus on the operations of Eastern Mountain and Bob’s, while all Sport Chalet stores would close.
On 19 April 2017, Sports Direct International plc (Sports Direct) received permission to acquire Bob’s Stores and Eastern Mountain Sports following Eastern Outfitters LLC’s Chapter 11 filing.