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Amid growth, Showers Pass doubles size with relocation

Posted by on June 29th, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Visit to Showers Pass -77
More room needed.
(Photos © J. Maus)

Showers Pass, a company that designs and markets bicycling apparel and has been headquartered in Portland since 2005, has relocated. According to a statement from the company, the new, 8,000 square foot space (at 2101 SE 6th Ave) is twice the size of their current office and warehouse facility on SE 17th Ave. near Powell Blvd.

A Showers Pass spokesperson says they needed a larger facility due to the continued growth in sales of their popular line of rain jackets and pants. Also adding to their growth is the recent introduction of VelEau, a bicycle-mounted hydration system. The product, which we reported on back in April, is set to hit retail shelves in early July. Showers Pass has already inked a sales agreement for VelEau with major national retail chain REI.

Visit to Showers Pass -66
Showers Pass co-president Ed Dalton.

Showers Pass touts that their new headquarters (note: it’s not a retail storefront) as being “more accessible by bike and transit” — it’s just blocks from the Eastbank Esplanade and the new light rail and streetcar lines.

The Portland Development Commission (PDC) helped make the move possible by offering grants, facade improvements and help with a loan to completely remodel the new space.

Visit to Showers Pass -80
No word yet whether they’ll repaint the
new location like one of their jackets,
as they did at the SE 17th Ave location.

Mayor Sam Adams noted that the move could position Showers Pass, which currently employes about seven people, for more growth in the future. “The company is well positioned to add jobs and talent to our growing athletic and outdoor industry cluster,” he said in a statement.

Showers Pass moved to their location on SE 17th Avenue in 2008 and was formerly located on SW Scholls Ferry Road.

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Comments
  • Seth June 29, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    glad to hear that they are doing well…the way this winter and spring were, my showers pass gear was essential!

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  • BURR June 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    maybe they’ll start sewing the US, too, but I’m not going to hold my breath for that.

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    • Chris I June 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm

      That would be a poor business decision.

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      • Alex June 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm

        Why would that be a poor business decision?

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        • Dave Thomson June 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm

          Because customers aren’t willing to pay an additional $75-$100 for a “Made In USA” tag.

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          • BURR June 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm

            so you’re OK with your rain jacket being made by someone that makes less in a year than some of you make in a day? Just so you can save a couple of dollars? Really?

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          • kww June 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm

            Dave, don’t generalize and assume that you speak for all ‘customers’. I will pay more for something of equal quality sewn in the USA every time.

            Unfortunately, most high performance clothing fabrics have been so comprehensively outsourced offshore, that most manufacturer’s won’t make the effort to sew in the USA.

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          • Chris I June 29, 2011 at 9:08 pm

            Burr,

            Do you want to make jackets all day? Is that something that we should be striving for as economic progress? I believe that workers here have the education to do better things.

            Hopefully, by providing this income to impoverished countries, we can eventually enable them to improve health and education for themselves.

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          • Alex June 30, 2011 at 11:08 am

            Actually a lot of people would pay for that and specifically look for that, especially cyclists.

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          • Dabby June 30, 2011 at 11:56 am

            Wrong Dave.

            People are willing to pay more for a jacket made here.

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      • peejay June 29, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        That’s funny: the company I work for continues to push all production overseas even though internal audits have proven it costs more to make our products in SE Asia than in greater Portland. Some high-up execs have to fulfill their objectives regardless of the health of the company, or our community.

        I shall not reveal where I work, naturally.

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    • Tony Fuentes June 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm

      Production in Portland is very possible. Like bike manufacturing, it is area that we may have the opportunity to “take back” in some tangible form. There was an interesting piece in nnpdx on local garment production:

      http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/news/2011/06/the_challenges_of_garment_production_in_portland/

      And a related piece in the Business Journal:

      http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/print-edition/2011/06/17/nine-1-one-joins-manufacturing-trend.html

      Never say never.

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  • Spiffy June 29, 2011 at 3:59 pm

    I really like my waterproof Showers Pass jacket, I just wish it was really waterproof as advertised… good thing it was a gift or I would have returned it…

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    • Harald June 29, 2011 at 5:49 pm

      Yeah, they certainly have managed to create a very strong image and a loyal customer base. Everybody was raving about their jackets, but I’m not very happy with my Touring. It’s not very waterproof and the zippers have already started to fail. I don’t have much to compare it with, but I don’t think I’m going to buy another one of their products.

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  • peejay June 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    As for Showers Pass quality, I understand that one must treat a waterproof material so it stays that way. What I don’t like is the sub-par zippers they use on the Event jacket. Other than that, it’s still the best bike jacket I’ve used.

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  • captainkarma June 29, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    I believe I WILL save my soda/beer can return money until I can afford something that gives workers HERE a half a chance to also afford to be a rain jacket. When is it going to STOP. Every manufacturing job eliminated cuts at least five other jobs, probably way more, truth to tell.

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  • mh June 29, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I bought my J&G rain jacket because it was made almost locally and everything else was made in China. It also has the longest pit zips of any coat I’ve ever seen. If J&G only had continued to make the XS instead of giving up because people kept buying them for their tiny children, I’d be even happier and not lost in it. Were it the right size and if it didn’t get tattooed with every bit of chain grease and brake crud in the neighborhood, it would even look good.

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    • beth h July 5, 2011 at 4:10 pm

      I love my J & G jacket, bought last winter to replace another jacket that got stolen. Best $100 I’ve spent on rainwear so far. And yes, the bright goldenrod yellow IS a little out of control, but those black chainring marks on the sleeve have become this bike commuter’s badge of honor. Simply a well-made jacket, period.

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  • Jeff Bernards June 30, 2011 at 8:57 am

    I’ve been trying to replace my current yellow rain pants after almost 10 years of use. Why is black my only choice? It’s raining and sometimes dark while I’m riding, black pants aren’t a color I want if I want to be seen by other road users, like cars.

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  • justin June 30, 2011 at 9:08 am

    how have i not heard of j&g until now? i will be looking into their rainwear before next season. and i will keep saving for the (locally made) North St. Panniers i have been wanting.

    just because some people want low price above all else, there are still some of us who look at all the aspects of the purchase. buying locally made products has a greater net effect on my life than saving a few dollars on a jacket or bag.

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  • Editz June 30, 2011 at 9:26 am

    Made in Oregon folks:

    http://www.bicycleclothing.com/index.html

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  • Dillon June 30, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I’ve been happy with everything I’ve gotten from.
    http://www.swrvestore.com/

    They don’t have any hard-shell rain gear, but I don’t wear that shit anyways.

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  • Alex June 30, 2011 at 11:20 am

    Chris I
    Burr,
    Do you want to make jackets all day? Is that something that we should be striving for as economic progress? I believe that workers here have the education to do better things.
    Hopefully, by providing this income to impoverished countries, we can eventually enable them to improve health and education for themselves.

    Do I personally? No. Probably no one does, including the Chinese people doing it. As it turns out, fabricating things is a necessary evil. Things don’t just magically appear. It also turns out that people need to work to make money to eat in modern society, so people have to work jobs they don’t necessarily want to do.

    Would I see this as economic progress? Yes, it would mean having more jobs located in the US, cut down greenhouse gas emissions as well as not promoting bad labor practices.

    Also, not all workers in the US are educated enough to do better things. I just listened to a piece how European companies have had to invest in a lot of training in the US because the workers were not educated well enough – at least not for manufacturing types of jobs. I don’t buy the US exceptionalist argument and there are obviously not enough jobs for the number of educated adults in this country.

    While I agree that providing jobs/incomes in impoverished countries can improve health and education in other countries, that is not necessarily our job and there are a lot of other ways to promote those things without having to resort to that. Also, if we are providing jobs in that country, we should also be promoting keeping things local in that country, not shipping it worldwide so labor can be exploited.

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    • Chris I June 30, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Keep in mind that every job created here supports an individual that lives a higher carbon lifestyle:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions_per_capita

      18.9 tons per year for the US worker vs. 4.9 tons for the Chinese worker. How many tons of CO2 does it take to ship that workers annual output of jackets I wonder?

      The CO2 problem is not as simple as it might seem.

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      • Alex June 30, 2011 at 3:03 pm

        What you said doesn’t mesh with those statistics. Those statistics are based on a per capita basis, and does not account for business CO2 use vs individual CO2 use. It combines them together and doesn’t give anywhere close to an accurate picture of what is really going on. You are skewing the point with statistics that have very little to do with the overall point. I think a more useful number would be just total CO2 output as access and consumption of energy/production of C02 is not related directly to the individual.

        All that being said, businesses that support cycling directly support cutting down CO2 emissions. It is also true that not shipping things halfway around the world would cut down on emissions. That is pretty simple math.

        The US is still the number 1 manufacturer in the world and that directly contributes more to C02 production than anything. Just displacing C02 production to another country does nothing to solve the problem.

        You may want to look at this as well: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_dioxide_emissions

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  • Dabby June 30, 2011 at 11:54 am

    Maybe if they would start making their coats in Portland I would buy one, but now, when people ask me what to buy jacket wise (and they do ask me) I steer them away from Shower’s Pass products.

    Saying you are a Portland company, and being a Portland company are two entirely different things.

    I for one try “Not” to buy products from companies that are riding the coat tails of Portland’s cycling popularity, without even trying to make the products here…

    BIg mistake Shower’s Pass…..

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  • Dabby June 30, 2011 at 11:58 am

    Not to mention my disappointment that PDC money is being used to help them move….

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  • Lois Moss June 30, 2011 at 12:51 pm

    Word on the street is that the the owners at SP are not always fair to their employees. I hope that changes, that they make amends to people they have been unfair to and that they build a more respectable company in the future.

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  • Dave Thomson June 30, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    Dabby
    Wrong Dave.
    People are willing to pay more for a jacket made here.

    I did not mean no one will buy their product, many people – including me, are willing to send more for products made in the US. The question is, will more people buy a $500 jacket with a “Made in USA” tag than will buy the same jacket for $400 without the tag. My guess is no.

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    • BURR June 30, 2011 at 4:42 pm

      who realistically spends that much on a rain jacket made anywhere?

      you are paying a premium just because it is supposedly purpose-made for cycling, but there are plenty of other usable jackets available that aren’t specifically for cycling which you don’t have to pay a premium for.

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    • Tony Fuentes June 30, 2011 at 5:34 pm

      I think the assumption that “Made in USA” = “High Price Premium” is often a specious argument.

      As an example, I went to purchase a bike rack for my van at REI. They have Yakima (a US based firm) and Thule (a Sweden based firm) racks to choose from.

      The racks I considered had nearly identical prices and features, yet the Thule rack was made in USA whereas the Yakima rack was made in China.

      So if Yakima was recognizing any saving in production and delivery costs, it sure wasn’t being passed on to the consumer.

      Another example….

      My wife and I own a baby boutique in Portland (Milagros). For many years we carried Robeez shoes, which were made in Canada by a privately held company (and had been for years).

      It was a very successful company and the owners sold it to StrideRite for a very pretty penny. Within a year, all manufacturing the former company-owned facilities ceased and production was moved to StrideRite’s contracted facilities in China.

      So, did the Robeez MSRP change? No.

      Did the wholesale price change (at least the pricing presented to small retailers like us)? No.

      Were comparable products/brands made in the USA, UK, New Zealand, and other “developed” countries with comparable wholesale and retail pricing available? Yes.

      Honestly, we have been in business for only 7 years yet I can give you a whole slew of examples from this brief time of products that we have offered that are made in the USA, Canada, or Europe that have competing brands that contract manufacturing in China who. like Robeez, provide little or no difference in wholesale and retail pricing.

      In fact, sometimes the Chinese-made product is higher in price because their “brand” has gained more visibility and desirability in the marketplace.

      So if there is a cost savings to be enjoyed by “outsourcing”, in many cases that savings isn’t making its way to the pocketbook of the retailer (at least on the indie ones) or the consumer.

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  • captainkarma June 30, 2011 at 9:19 pm

    I probably don’t really have to re-iterate these facts, but then again maybe I should: (all from The Consumerist
    http://consumerist.com/2011/05/chinese-ipad-workers-forced-to-sign-pledges-to-not-commit-suicide.html

    “I-Pad Workers Forced To Sign “No Suicide” Pledge…. ….after a rash of suicides at the factories, workers were forced to sign pledges promising not to commit suicide and to instead “treasure their lives.”
    In addition, they had to promise that if they did kill themselves, their families would only seek the minimum in legal damages.
    * Illegal overtime is common. One payslip stated 98 hours of overtime. The legal limit is 36.
    * Workers were pushed to only take one day off out of 13 days in order to meet the demand for iPad orders
    * Public humiliation is required in some factories to discipline poorly performing workers
    This is the human cost of the race towards the bottom that has become our consumer product cycle.

    “You want fast, cheap, and in massive quantities? Somewhere, someone will bear that cost.”

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  • Tom July 2, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Great products, always dry in Portland winters. But their customer service is as good as their product. Great news they are doing well… just hope some big conglomerate doesn’t move it and mess it up.

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  • anonymous July 5, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I work in the bicycle industry.
    The shop I work in sells rainwear by SP.
    I do not own an SP jacket.
    Instead, I spent $100 last year on a J & G “Waterproof/Breathable” jacket, sewn right here in Oregon. Yes, the fit is somewhat boxy-utilitarian and no, it doesn’t make me look like a professional bike racer; but I’m not a professional bike racer and quite frankly the boxy cut fits over my chest and hips. It also repels the rain *beautifully* and without fail. I expect this jacket to last for years, and that is more than I can say for just about ANY jacket I’ve tried made Somewhere Else.

    I’d rather pay premium for substance and quality than for style any day, even if I can’t buy it in a bike shop.

    (Note: J & G will never make their ?Waterproof/Breathable” rainwear available to bike shops because the cost would be much higher and they want to keep the pricing competitive — so they sell direct online or by phone.)

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  • beth h July 5, 2011 at 4:46 pm

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