Bottom Line: Outdoor apparel maker gets new life away from the Upper Valley

  • John Lippman. Copyright (c) Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

Valley News Business Writer
Published: 10/26/2019 9:23:55 PM
Modified: 10/26/2019 9:45:52 PM

Ibex is rising like a phoenix from the ashes.

The outdoor apparel company named after the wild goat with the long, curved horns, which began in Vermont and was based in White River Junction for many years before going out of business, is springing back to life.

Only this time you won’t find this Ibex roaming anywhere near the Upper Valley. Its new habitat is the Rockies.

Ibex’s assets — mostly the company’s intellectual property — were picked up at auction by New York investor group Flour Fund in 2018. Now the investors have recruited Boulder, Colo.-based apparel designer Bonie Shupe to oversee the relaunch of the company.

Shupe told the outdoor industry news site Snews — so far she’s the only full-time Ibex employee — that she is working with a “team of contractors” who “really went back to basics” to design the relaunched line of Ibex merino wool apparel, including the Shak jacket.

For starters, Shupe said, the new Ibex will have a limited line of clothing, carrying fewer than 30 different “SKUs” (an item of one style, color and size is one SKU) compared with 450 SKUs under the old Ibex. Plus, she said, the apparel, at least for the foreseeable future, will sell only “direct to consumer” online.

Although Shupe said the new Ibex will adhere to eco-friendly suppliers and “transparency” in its supply chain, she acknowledged that the company may have product made overseas, a practice the former Ibex might consider as heinous as polyester.

“Some are going to be overseas; some are going to be the U.S. For me the most important thing is really looking at the source, and looking at if they have fair labor standards, are they becoming more carbon neutral. I’m not of the strict USA-made mindset, like the old Ibex was. I’m a global citizen and I just believe in well-paid jobs and good working conditions,” Shupe told Snews.

Bridgewater Mill over troubled waters

The owner of one of the commercial spaces in the Bridgewater Mill has suffered a legal defeat in his ongoing court battle against the building’s condo association, potentially paving the way for his unit to be put for sale at foreclosure auction.

Leo Werner, who bought two commercial units in the space that had been occupied previously by Northern Ski Works in the landmark property on Route 4 in 2017, has lost a lawsuit he brought against the building’s condo association to block it from selling his property at a foreclosure sale.

Windsor Superior Court Judge Michael R. Kainen, in a five-page decision issued Oct. 16, said Werner’s lawsuit “failed to meet its burden” in legal arguments for the court to issue an injunction against the sale of his units. The condo association has been seeking to foreclose on his property over unpaid member fees the association says it is owed.

The owners association maintains that Werner’s failure to pay the condo fees has been a significant factor in the association itself not keeping current on its sewer bill with the town, whose Selectboard has authorized a tax sale of the building. The association manages the building; its other units’ owners include furniture maker ShackletonThomas and Adriana Curutchet and her husband, Jireh Billings.

Werner, who was once executive director of the International Maple Sugar Institute and is the father of Jesse Werner, the cheesemaker at Plymouth Artisan Cheese, has never occupied the space in the east end of the building. The elder Werner said in court filings that he was unaware that the condo association had a lien of nearly $64,000 at the time he purchased the property.

Technically, Werner’s units reside in Woodstock and not Bridgewater — the town line cuts through the building — and earlier maintained to the Valley News that if the town of Bridgewater pushes through a tax sale of the building it would not apply to his property.

The condo association says the amount Werner now owes on his space has grown to more than $140,000.

With the court lifting the temporary injunction against a foreclosure sale (a judge had issued the injunction minutes before potential buyers were to begin bidding), Curutchet said the owners association will now propose a payment plan to Werner for the owed fees. If Werner doesn’t respond to the association’s plan in the required time, she expects it will move again on a foreclosure sale.

I emailed Werner for comment, but didn’t hear back.

Comings & goings ...

■The Woodstock restaurant formerly known as Bentleys, which has been closed since April, is a few weeks away from reopening under a new name: Dr. Coburn’s Tonic. Robert Crowe, a former partner in Bentleys who is the new restaurant’s operator, said he expects Dr. Coburn’s Tonic to open in November as soon as contractors finish a top-to-bottom renovation of the space.

Amcomm Wireless in North Country Plaza in West Lebanon is making a big move — next door.

The operator of a number of Verizon retail phone stores this fall will move next door into the space formerly occupied by the Mouse Menagerie gift shop adjacent to Panera Bread but which has been vacant for several years.

The new store “will pretty much double our space,” reported store manager Sarah Carrier. She said it was “very important” for Amcomm to stay in North Country Plaza “because this is where our customers know we are,” happily noting that being adjacent to the cafe presents “a great opportunity for walk-in traffic from Panera.”

Massachusetts-based Amcomm Wireless owns 29 Verizon retail stores in three New England states, including stores in Hanover; Claremont; New London; and Rochester, N.H.

I want to know your business! Reach me at jlippman@vnews.com.




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