The big box retail model floods the store with inv...

The big box retail model floods the store with inventory to give the customer options, leaving them to figure out what to buy. Without an in-store gear expert explaining the performance advantages of the more expensive products, inevitably lower priced gear out sells more expensive gear.

It’s the job of the big box retailer’s “Buyer” to buy gear that will sell, which tends to reward cheaper products. Retail buyers are graded by what sells and penalized on products that need to be discounted to be sold. The buyers then penalize brands if their products do not sell themselves. This model has driven quality out of the fabrics and construction of apparel and packs and strangled innovation, refocusing the drive towards hitting a price point that will sell quickly instead.

Most apparel and pack manufactures have a 50% margin in their pricing when selling to the Box retailer wholesale. The Box stores then add a 50% margin to the (wholesale) pricing at which they purchased the product from manufacture’s before selling it to the consumer. This quickly drives the price up and why less expensive fabrics and construction are chosen.

For example: BRAND X’s Jacket cost is $75.00 and  is sold to the retailer by Brand X for $150.00. The retailer then marks it up again and sells it to you for $300.00. A jacket that costs $75.00 to make is sold to you for $300.00.

The big box retailer earn’s a 50% margin or $150.00 to hang it on the rack for you to try on.

Would you be better served by doing your own research and paying the $150.00 for the jacket and ordering it in a store?

Or even better, working directly with the company that made the jacket and pay $200.00 for better materials, design, fabrics, construction, lighter weight and higher performance?

This is why KUIU is a consumer direct brand. At Sitka I was restricted by price points. I was constantly considering the cost of fabrics, construction, design and how it would impact price and sell through at the retail level. I dreamed of a business model where I could make fabric, product design and manufacturing decisions that would maximize the performance of the product and not have to worry about price, answering the customer’s need, rather than the retailer’s.

This business model is the reason why our products are made only with the finest ingredients in the world such as Toray, The Merino Company, 3M, Dura-flex, Easton, Pittards Leather, Cordura and Polartec. It’s what allows us to produce the highest quality gear with no compromises in performance.  It’s what will allow KUIU to continue to lead the industry with cutting edge innovations and push our market further than ever before.






This article has 20 comment(s)

  1. B_Bolding aka TradRag

    This is why WE LOVE KUIU!!!! Thank you Jason!!!!

  2. Lindsey

    Here, Here!! Well stated!

  3. Bill Tozer

    As an retailer selling high quality hunting gear I think you are missing a couple important things…

    Kuiu is really a design, spec, and distribution outlet company. With the exception of very large chain stores like BassPro, Cabellas, Wholesale Sports etc, most small retailers like myself, usually purchase our offerings from “distributors” at about 35% off inflated MSRP prices. The minimum advertised price is usually about 15% less than that and the prices goods actually sell for is even less. You make it sound like we are making a killing which is total BS. We carry stock, provide opportunity for customers to look and see before purchasing, and some even have a clue about the products and the pros and cons. So there is some value to the service we provide as well as local employment, taxes, etc.

    Not arguing with Kuiu’s quality, although I’m not too happy with my first gen Icon Frame.

    • Jason Hairston

      Hi Bill,

      I can totally understand where your comment is coming from. I remember you and your business quite well.

      This post is all about the Big Box Retailer. If speciality retail like your business still drove this industry the need to bypass the retailer would not happen because you can sell innovation in this market.

      I understand your comments regarding distributors and margin. At Sitka we never sold through distributors and lowest margin we ever offered was 40% and that was to order less than $10k and no terms otherwise it was 50%. I cannot comment where Gore has taken the Sitka program and distribution.

      If you are not happy with your 2011 Icon I will be more than happy to fix any issue you are having with it. Just let us know.


  4. john

    Agree with your model 100%!
    Looking for quiet hunting pant for still hunting.
    (My army well washed/worn ripstop cotton bdu’s are a little noisy)
    Is this something that has enough demand for you to look into?
    Or do you think the attack pant fits the bill?

    Thanks again

  5. Ken Anderson

    Hey Jason, I love your business model and products. I’ve been gradually adding pieces to my collection every few months and am very happy with everything so far.

    My question: my wife is also an avid (fanatical!) hunter, and I would like to start outfitting her with KUIU gear as well. Do you have any plans to offer clothing designed for a woman’s body contours in the near future? (she hates wearing ill-fitting men’s clothing).

  6. Unka Tong

    Thank you for being awesome.

  7. Clay

    I have heard a lot of great things about your company and products. I was actually looking into camo for a moose trip my hunters are sending me on, and they all wear sitka so I started there and quickly found it was out of my price range. All the hunting sites mention kuiu and the quality of the products, so I’m hoping to give your company some business the next time you have an outer wear sale. If it is as good as I am expecting it to be maybe all my hunters and friends will be switching over to kuiu also. Hope to order soo. Clay

  8. Matt

    I do appreciate this business model. I’m too cheap to buy equipment that is not top shelf. My expectations of gear has changed over the years and quality/durability is a must. There are many quality company’s out there but none that I know of like KUIU (I’m sure they are out there). I have also tried to do my best to not patronize big box stores anymore. That is tough to do. Business is business and my dollar is hard earned like everyone else. I’m happy to spend it with the little guy especially when materials of the quality of KUIU.

    Boonie hats 7 5/8 – 7 7/8 por favor amigo! (had to make that pitch, sorry)


    • Jeff M. Valunas

      AGREED! On all these points. Well said, Matt!

  9. Bill Pass

    The heck with retail. Keep doing what your doing, don’t destroy a great product!!!!

  10. Mark

    Love your product. Quality must always be/remain priority 1. Warranties are useless. Products dont fail sitting in a gunsafe,closet or drawer. It will always be when your in the middle of nowhere. Keep making the best you possibly can, cut no corners. Do not let cancerous complacency take hold. I think In the movie Tommy boy Chris Farley said something like, “hey I can shit in a box and put a warranty on the side of it”.

  11. Craig Germond

    That’s why I like KUIU. Your looking out for the customer not the retailer. The savings is substantial and the bottom line is it makes the customer happy.

    I think corporate offices for most companies should take a look at your business model.

    Team KUIU keep up the great job!

  12. Val marquez

    Great post, Jason. I love my Kuiu gear, it serves me well in Maine’s mountains and hardwoods as well. Vias camo pattern is the best camo for ground hunting I have used. Once I set in rocks or dead leafs I disappear. Kuiu isn’t just for mountain hunting. Thanks for the insider info.


  13. Andrea Gehring

    Winning philosophy and product! Thank you Jason

  14. Neil

    Keep up the good work and the successful model you have. We love it.

  15. Mark Caywood

    The direct sales model has advantages for me. Kuiu products are top of the line. Quality counts and costs. Direct sales gives a price break that can be returned in quality. No sales tax is also a bonus. Sizing is the only problem that might exist. This can be met with consistency in fabrication. Kuiu is not totally direct in that garments and packs can be tried on a sports / hunting shows Kuiu attends. Please post your show schedule. I am looking foreword to the Guide Pants in solid colors as we discussed in Boise at the BHA meeting.

  16. Rudy

    I can totally relate to your business model. As a filmmaker and owner of an outdoor production company, I looked into getting distribution in the big box stores but backed out once I saw the terms.

    I’ve been selling my files independently and enjoy working directly with my customers, many of which become great friends.

    Keep inspiring and leading the way.


    PS – I can’t wait to get my first Kuiu gear. Ore-ordered it today!

  17. sean

    HEY Jason, thanks for looking out for #1, the customer. You guys at KUIU offer the best gear on the planet and im rapidly turning all my Shitka freinds over to KUIU here in the rockies of BC. Keep up the amazing work and you will continue to get my pay cheques!

  18. Jen

    Thanks for the great article, really helped me learn about Kuiu!