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Outdoor outfitter Eddie Bauer celebrates 90th anniversary
Feb '10
Specialty retailer Eddie Bauer, The Original Outdoor Outfitter, is turning 90. When Mr. Bauer first opened for business in 1920, his "Eddie Bauer's Tennis Shop" was renting space in a gun shop in downtown Seattle. Within a year he had his own storefront and became renowned as an outfitter and innovator. While he built his business serving hunters and fishermen of the Pacific Northwest, he went on to become America's premier expedition outfitter during the golden age of Himalayan mountaineering.

Today, Eddie Bauer has approximately 364 stores in the United States and Canada, catalog and online businesses. The company offers premium-quality clothing, accessories and gear for men and women that complement today's modern outdoor lifestyle. In October 2009, the company launched its First Ascent brand of guide-built gear, signaling a return to the company's mountaineering roots as an expedition outfitter.

"For the past 90 years, the Eddie Bauer name has meant a lot of things to a lot of people across North America," said Neil Fiske, President and CEO of Eddie Bauer. "This year, we are happy to celebrate the rich history of the company and the man who not only brought quality, outdoors apparel and gear into people's homes and closets, but also outfitted some of the world's greatest adventurers."

Eddie Bauer, himself, dropped out of school at 14 to go to work. But his lack of formal education didn't prevent him from producing an impressive string of "firsts" that established his reputation and built his company into an American icon:

First Guarantee In 1922, Eddie put his "100% unconditional lifetime guarantee" into writing. This promise was virtually unheard in the day and became the cornerstone of the Eddie Bauer standard of excellence. Long after he retired, Eddie called his guarantee the greatest of his contributions.

First Labrador Retriever In 1930, Eddie brought the first black Labrador retriever into Washington State. An expert hunter, he became a passionate advocate for the breed. In 1960, he formed Wanapum Kennels to raise champion field trial Labs. In 1974, he was named Retriever Breeder of the Year.

First American Shuttlecocks In 1933, Eddie developed a new badminton shuttlecock and formed Bauer's Shuttles, Inc., "America's Oldest Established Shuttlecock Manufacturing Firm." His first two patents were for his shuttlecock.

First Down Jacket In 1935, after suffering life-threatening hypothermia on a winter fishing trip, Eddie built a prototype down jacket, the "Blizzard Proof." A year later, he introduced the "Skyliner," which became the first down jacket patented in America (D119122; 1940).

First Down Flight Suit In 1942, Eddie was asked by the U.S. Army Air Forces to design a "cold weather buoyancy flight suit." The two main criteria were that it had to keep a flier warm while sitting still for up to three hours in -70°F; and in case the plane was shot down over water, it had to keep a flier with 25 pounds of gear afloat for up to 24 hours. Eddie's down-insulated B-9 Parka and A-8 Flight Pants passed every test, and saved many lives.

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