Blair Launches Wholesale Unit

Venerable apparel and home goods mailer Blair Corp. is getting down to business. The Warren, PA-based company has formed a sportswear wholesale subsidiary, Allegheny Trail Corp., that will target retailers specializing in outdoor sporting goods.

Blair has tapped Dick Holcombe — formerly the chief marketing officer/head merchant of Melbourne, FL-based car and travel accessories marketer A.J. Prindle and Co. — as general manager of the new business. No stranger to the outdoor market, Holcombe has held executive posts at, Rockport, and Amerex Outdoors.

Allegheny Trail debuted its core basics for spring 2004 at trade shows in August and plans to introduce hard goods and additional apparel selections this fall. The wholesale effort will be supported by a print catalog. The product line includes fleece pullovers, tank tops, and cargo pants and shorts for men and women.

Blair president John Zawacki says that the company intends to compete on price. Given the abundance of higher-priced brand names within the outdoor apparel market, he feels Allegheny Trail will stand out by offering less-expensive goods, along the lines of Target and Old Navy. “We believe there is a great opportunity for high-quality core apparel and outdoor accessories with Allegheny Trail’s strong value proposition,” he says.

A wholesale catalog may seem like a bit of a departure for the 92-year-old Blair, whose titles include the women’s apparel book Crossing Pointe. But Zawacki believes that the outdoor recreational sports market is an “unfulfilled niche.” Further, he notes, the wholesale sportswear concept fits in with Blair’s mission to serve each niche with low- to moderate-priced merchandise.