Clinton Filson introduced his Mackinaw Cruiser jacket in 1897, just as Seattle had become the passageway to the Yukon Territory and the...

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Clinton Filson introduced his Mackinaw Cruiser jacket in 1897, just as Seattle had become the passageway to the Yukon Territory and the Klondike gold rush.

The 26-ounce wool jacket contained a pocket that covered the entire back, accessible through slits on either side and good for storing prospecting maps. More than a century later, Filson sells the same jacket to outdoorsmen, only the price has risen from under $10 to $275.

Filson, and its new owners, had sought to update the company’s image in the past two years with a casual sportswear line and retail-store expansion plans. But the company has pulled back, both in response to a chilling reception from longtime customers and for fear of going the way of another local, iconic outdoor apparel brand.

“The common refrains are: ‘Whatever happened to my Filson?’ and ‘Don’t go the way of Eddie Bauer,’ ” said Bill Kulczycki, the plain-spoken retired Patagonia executive tapped to run the company five months ago.

After Filson was purchased by Brentwood Associates in January 2005, the Los Angeles investment firm hired former Polo Ralph Lauren executive Doug Williams to run the company.

Under his direction, Filson introduced a casual sportswear collection for men called The Lodge line, replete with Henley sweaters and wool-cotton blend shirts. Backed by a national advertising campaign, the company announced plans for an aggressive store rollout to bring the mostly catalog and wholesale business face-to-face with consumers.

Kulczycki, who spent 17 years at Patagonia, the last seven as vice president of business development at Patagonia International, said the line didn’t resonate with customers because it lacked the functionality they demand.

In response, the company brought in Kulczycki for his experience with another outdoor apparel brand. Williams remains chairman of the company’s board.

Filson said it would scale down its casual sportswear line, offering shirts with stronger fabrics and functionality, such as shirt pockets useful for fisherman and hunters. The company also plans to launch a Filson women’s clothing line, due in spring 2008.

For a retailer with the motto “Might as Well Have the Best,” its challenge now will be to return to its 110-year-old promise.

— Monica Soto Ouchi


Tully’s Coffee founder and Chairman Tom O’Keefe earned a salary of $114,911 from the Seattle coffee shop chain in 2006, according to a regulatory filing. The firm’s new president and chief executive, John Buller, started in August 2006 with a package that includes a $200,000 base salary, plus eligibility for equity and cash bonuses and a car allowance of $650 a month.

The company’s net loss worsened in the third quarter ended Dec. 31 to $2.8 million from $1.3 million a year ago, largely because of legal expenses.

We wave our handbags at half-staff: Gap has announced plans to close Forth & Towne, a smart retail concept for women who have outgrown Banana Republic but aren’t ready for Talbots. Lynn Beck of downtown Seattle’s Pacific Place said they are in talks about the closing date. “The good news is we have a long list of tenants waiting to get in here,” she said. Barneys plans to open there in June. Meanwhile, those set to remodel or expand: Williams-Sonoma, Twist and MaxMara. MSO

Dunkin’ Donuts, which competes heavily with Starbucks back East, now plans to battle for coffee customers on grocery store shelves, too. The Canton, Mass.-based doughnut-and-coffee shop chain announced this week that Procter & Gamble will distribute its packaged coffee to grocers and other retail outlets nationwide. Starbucks does not break out sales of coffee in grocery stores, but it is part of $41.6 million the company posted in first-quarter operating profits for products like coffee, ice cream and bottled drinks sold through grocers and other retail outlets. — MA

MacTarnahan’s Brewing, which is owned by Seattle-based Pyramid Breweries, has redesigned the bottle label and packaging for MacTarnahan’s Amber Ale and is stepping up marketing to bring more attention to the company that operates MacTarnahan’s Taproom in Portland. Formerly called Portland Brewing, it also makes Oregon Honey Beer and BlackWatch Cream Porter.

— MA

Retail Report appears Fridays.

Melissa Allison covers the food and beverage industry. She can be reached at 206-464-3312 or

Monica Soto Ouchi covers goods, services and online retail. She can be reached at 206-515-5632 or