Message from the CEO

It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you that after nearly fifty (50) years in business, HTO will be closing its remaining four stores and shutting down the business.

HTO has been an institution in the DC Metro Area since 1971. From day one the mission was simple: open a store that sells the greatest outdoor gear and apparel on the planet, hire only those who love the outdoors and who are passionate about health and happiness, and provide Positively Outrageous Customer Service to everyone. The retail landscape has changed so much within the last 36 months and the Company has decided that the time has come to begin to ‘wind down’ all company affairs, knowing that it never had to compromise any excellence standards on behalf of the community.

The community and the Company have always supported each other with such dignity and respect, and the Company will always be proud of the role that it played in helping to improve the lives of literally hundreds of thousands of people, employees and customers, within the DC Metro Area. During this transition, all customers and all employees can count on continued excellence and pride from all associations with the Company. HTO firmly believes that an orderly wind-down of affairs provides the best opportunity for professional closure and maximum success and efficiency in what are otherwise sad and nostalgic circumstances.

The Company wishes to thank all of its customers and team members (past and present) for nearly five (5) decades of committed loyalty, high standards, professionalism, association, trust, support, partnership…and most importantly…. friendship. And what a ride it has been – who would have ever imagined that Ground Zero for what is now internationally known as Specialty Active Outdoor Retail was going to be Kensington, Maryland, or, that a passionate and creative outdoorsman from Washington, DC would one day grow up to both pioneer an entire industry, and, to become the example and trend setter for how that industry would grow and evolve for nearly half of a century?

In advance, thank you for your continued support during this transition.

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Holiday Message from CEO; Top 10 List; 2015 Expectations

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Dear Friends,

Thank you for your ongoing confidence in HTO, Ltd, and thank you for supporting small, local business in 2014! We realize that you have a choice…and we’re so grateful that you continue to choose us!

On behalf of the entire company, please know that we’re constantly motivated and inspired by the opportunities that you give us to help you live a happier, healthier, more active lifestyle. Rendering Positively Outrageous Customer Service to all people (at all times, and in all instances), and striving to offer the authentic, magical, knowledgeable, and extraordinary outfitting experiences (on the planet) remains our top priority. Since 1971, HTO, Ltd has been dedicated to developing a Company Culture that is happy, fun, helpful, professional, passionate, energetic and kind for one reason: to better serve YOU!

To be honest, it’s not always easy…but our commitment to your 100% total satisfaction and to making positive differences the lives of our customers, guests and communities is what we value the most.   We feel…the more we know, the more we practice, the more we smile, and the more personal we are…the better your active outdoor experience will be! And you may not even be aware of it, but when you support small, local business, you’re making a positive difference in our lives and in our families’ lives. So thank you, sincerely.

We’re proud of what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. We’re so appreciative of the opportunity to help, service, assist, advise for, suggest, problem solve with, talk to, and interact with you…and we agree, specialty retail does still matter in 2014 and specialty retail is still the foundation of our community. You’ve done your part, and know that we’re committed to continuing to do ours in 2015 and beyond. We promise, individually and collectively:

  1. To provide every customer with a unique, one of a kind, powerful, mind blowing, extraordinary, magical experience that will be both transparent and authentic.
  2. To respect the rights of every customer to look around and to be inspired by their surroundings.
  3. To fulfill the company’s promise to be the absolute best, and to earn the opportunity to serve every customer.
  4. To not ‘sell gear’ – to outfit every customer for a happier, healthier and more active lifestyle.
  5. To render Positively Outrageous Customer Service to all people, at all times, and in all instances – to remember that all HTO, Ltd Team Members are empowered to make everything perfect for every customer.
  6. To listen to every customer and to make expert suggestions.
  7. To be energetic and electric and to wear my passion for the active outdoor sports lifestyle on my sleeve like a badge of honor.
  8. To do everything humanly possible to make quality differences in every customers life.
  9. To represent HTO, Ltd with professionalism and pride.
  10. To live the Active Outdoor Lifestyle.

The Top 10 Things HTO, Ltd won’t be doing in 2015

  • No longer ‘Price Matching’.
  • Producing or selling ‘house branded goods’, made to be sold cheaply and that will perform cheaply.
  • Training and/or developing our Outfitters any less because that’s what others do to save money.
  • Apologizing for selling the greatest and best outdoor gear, clothing, and products on the planet!
  • Offering free shipping on top of free shipping with discount codes for ways to get more free shipping with your existing free shipping.
  • Creating out of state call centers, staffed with ‘Operators’ rather than trained, vetted, gear and service professionals.
  • Raising our prices when nobody’s looking.
  • Lowering our standards because someone may not be looking.
  • Violating your trust and selling your email address.
  • Offering Drone Delivery

Thank you again for a great 2014, best wishes to you and your families this holiday season, and may your new year be filled with all the success and happiness you deserve!

And remember, you have our commitment to continue to do all that needs to be done to always offer you the most authentic, the most enthusiastic, the most magical, the most knowledgeable, and the most extraordinary service and outfitting experience possible.

Without you, there is no HTO, Ltd.

Happy holidays!

Sandy Cohan, CEO, HTO, Ltd.

Best Skiing/Snowboarding Locations around DC

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It’s not too late to hit the slopes! Washingtonian has compiled a list of the best places to ski and snowboard around the DMV area. Need some new gear? Stop by our stores and shop our Winter Clearance (20% OFF ski accessories, goggles, helmets and socks!). Not only will you get quality gear, but our expert Outfitters will be more than happy to give you advice and tips for your getaway. They are as enthusiastic as you to get some runs in before the season ends!

Best Overall Ski Resort: Snowshoe Mountain Resort

With 57 trails, Snowshoe is not only the largest ski resort in the region; it also has the highest vertical drop (1,500 feet) and the most natural snow (an average of 180 inches annually), although all 251 acres are covered by snow-making if necessary. Four terrain parks and an Olympic-size Superpipe make the West Virginia retreat a top pick for snowboarders and freestyle skiers, too. An abundance of blue runs on the main face and in the Silver Creek area make Snowshoe a great choice for intermediate skiers as well. Lodging ranges from inexpensive, comfortable hotels in the valley to slope-side condos. The mountaintop village also includes an array of shops and restaurants as well as swimming pools and a 15,000-square-foot arcade. 877-441-4386; snowshoemtn.com.

Best for Families: Wisp Resort

Adjacent to Deep Creek Lake, Wisp—Maryland’s only ski resort—is ideal for families, with plenty of discounted ski-and-stay packages. Thirty percent of the terrain is rated easy, so children and other beginners will have a fine time. Off-slope family fun includes snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and riding the Mountain Coaster—whose cars zoom along 3,500 feet of downhill steel track snaking through the woods. 301-387-4000;wispresort.com.

Most Romantic: Wintergreen Resort

Wintergreen offers a mountaintop spa with outdoor hot tubs as well as nicely appointed condos along a ridgeline facing east over the Blue Ridge Mountains and Virginia wine country. Couples can ski, get a massage, snuggle in front of their fireplace, and wake to a spectacular sunrise. 434-325-2200; wintergreenresort.com.

Best for Expert Skiers: Blue Knob

There’s nothing fancy about Blue Knob, in Claysburg, Pennsylvania. It’s a skier’s mountain, with five beginner slopes, 15 intermediate, and a whopping 14 expert runs on the steepest terrain in the region, including the Extrovert and the Lower Shortway, two of the toughest slopes in the Mid-Atlantic. The resort also features expert glade skiing through the trees, tight chutes, and an open bowl area. 800-458-3403; blueknob.com.

Best Ski School: Seven Springs

There’s a learning program for everyone at Seven Springs in Pennsylvania. Amost all instructors are certified by the Professional Ski Instructors of America or the American Association of Snowboard Instructors. Group lessons are limited to eight students and based on skill level. The resort also offers private lessons, the Burton Snowboards Learn to Ride program, a Tiny Tots School, a Youth Academy, telemark skiing classes, and a 55-plus program for older skiers of intermediate ability who wish to take it to the next level. After a lesson, you can enjoy the best nightlife of any regional resort, including live music on weekends, bowling, swimming, roller-skating, and indoor mini-golf. 800-452-2223; 7springs.com.

Best Night Skiing: Liberty Mountain Resort

Only an hour and a half’s drive north of DC, Liberty in Carroll Valley, Pennsylvania, is the most convenient resort for Washingtonians. All 16 trails are well lit for night skiing: You can leave work at 4 and be on the slopes for the 5-to-10-pm ticket. Want a bite to eat? McKee’s Tavern serves great burgers, sandwiches, and a variety of beers on tap and in bottles. 717-642-8282; libertymountainresort.com.

Massanutten Resort (bottom left) thrills those seeking snowtubing. Photograph courtesy of the resort.

Best Day Trip: Whitetail Resort

Also 90 minutes from DC, Whitetail in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, is a lot bigger than Liberty. There are 22 trails (six more than at Liberty) and 935 feet of vertical drop (compared with Liberty’s 620). All of the slopes are wide open, and the east-facing mountain helps keep the snow from turning to ice. There are two terrain parks, a halfpipe, and the area’s best mogul run. The bumps on the Bold Decision expert slope are big and relentless but generally soft. Don’t miss the beginner Sidewinder Trail, where the pitch is constant from top to bottom. 717-328-9400; skiwhitetail.com.

Least Crowded: Montage Mountain

Right off of Interstate 81 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, Montage—formerly Sno Mountain—is an easy drive, at less than four hours from DC, but never overrun. Even on holiday weekends, lift lines are usually short to nonexistent. The mountain offers 26 trails with a 1,000-foot vertical drop, and all are lit for night skiing. For a fun getaway, head to Montage for a Saturday-afternoon/evening ticket, book a cheap hotel room near the interstate in Scranton that night, then on Sunday continue about 50 minutes north to ski Elk Mountain (elkskier.com), a bit of Vermont in Pennsylvania. 855-754-7946; montageisback.com.

Best Bargain: Canaan Valley

A high-season, adult weekend lift ticket at Canaan Valley in Davis, West Virginia, is only $52—compared with $62 and up at most other regional resorts. That’s just the start of the bargains: A weekend pass runs $85, and a midweek lodging/ski/breakfast package is $84 per person per night (based on double occupancy). If you crave more than Canaan’s 43 trails—and don’t mind spending more money—visit adjacent Timberline Resort (timberlineresort.com), home of the two-mile Salamander Trail, the longest run in the Mid-Atlantic. 304-866-4121; canaanresort.com.

Best Adaptive Skiing: Wintergreen Resort

Founded in 1984, Wintergreen Adaptive Sports, which works with the Wounded Warrior Project, brings skiing and snowboarding to the physically and mentally challenged. Each skier is provided with customized equipment, such as a sit-down ski sled, and specialized assistance from some 100 volunteer instructors. 434-325-2007; wintergreenresort.com.

Best Snow Tubing: Massanutten Resort

The 900-foot-long, 125-foot-high tubing hill at Massanutten in Harrisonburg, Virginia, thrills riders with three whoop-de-doo jumps, high-walled individual lanes, and one magic-carpet lift that makes it an easy trip back up for multiple runs on a two-hour lift ticket. 540-289-4954; massresort.com.

This article appears in the January 2014 issue of Washingtonian.