Into The Wind's Flight Blog

Monday, February 23, 2009

Going once...going twice...

In a previous post I mentioned that our Kensei and Color Wheel Hatas are being sewn these days by Pam & Mike of Heads Up Kites and that they previously worked for Top of the Line Kites. For those of you not familiar with Top of the Line, they manufactured the Hawaiian Team Kite (shown here), Hawaiian Spinoff, North Shore Radical, Sprint and Snap along with a few other ground breaking stunt kite designs back in the '80's. Many current flyers and designers in kiting will tell you that the first kite they ever flew was a TOTL Team Kite. TOTL has been out of business for several years (however, they licensed another company to make the Hawaiian Team Kite after they quit producing them). And it has been a few years now since we sold our last TOTL kite. So it seems like this would be an ideal time to clear out all of the Top of the Line parts that we have left in stock. And how about this...we'll make them all free! You only pay for the shipping. If you request just one or two of the parts we have, we'll charge you the $6 minimum. If you get carried away and order the whole lot we'll charge you $14 for shipping. Here's what we have:
6 North Shore Radical bridles, new in package
10 Snap 16" Center Spine Rods, new in package
2 Hawaiian Team Center-Ts, new
1 Fluorescent Orange Hawaiian Team Kite Bag Replacement, new in package
4 Sprint 22" Fiberglass Spreader Rods, new in package
1 Maui Spinoff 25" Fiberglass Rod (may be batten or lower spreader) new in package ($8 shipping)
1 Hawaiian Team 24 1/4" Upper Spreader Spar, new ($8 shipping)
1 Hawaiian Maui 25" Center Spine fiberglass rod, new in package ($8 shipping)
1 Hawaiian Team or Spinoff 18 1/2" Leading Edge Top Fiberglass Rod, new in package
16 Hawaiian Maui (3/4 Team) Spreader Extender Sets (used to extend the spreaders when the sail stretched out), new in package
21 Hawaiian Team Spreader Extender Sets, new in package
1 Hawaiian Team Kite Batten .261" x 52.5" (two piece), new ($8 shipping)
2 pairs North Shore Radical Standoffs, new
1 pair North Shore Extreme Standoffs, new in package
1 set lineset, straps, standoffs for Sprint, new in package in opened Sprint plastic bag
1 Snap, appears to be new and includes all parts but clearly has been opened, sold "as is" ($10 shipping)
1 Snap Add-on, has been flown, some parts may be missing, sold "as is" ($10 shipping)

If you purchase multiple items, shipping will be adjusted to a reasonable amount. Items are represented as accurately as possible but let us know if you don't receive what you were expecting. We'll keep these items around for the next couple of weeks but then they'll be dumpster bound. Please call us or send an email to order these items (they can't be ordered on the website).

Labels: ,

Friday, February 20, 2009

Twenty thousand and counting

The Into The Wind Hata has been made and sold by Into The Wind since 1983 (almost since the very beginning). Inspired by Japan's Nagasaki Hata, it was designed by ITW's owner, George Emmons. It made its debut in the 1983 Catalog of Kites as the "Wind Tracer" for $11.50. At the time, George was cutting and framing the kites at home and Jim Glass (George's partner who passed away in 1997) was sewing them at the store. It's hard to say what color the kite was back then because the 1983 catalog was mostly black and white and there's no mention of the color choices.

In 1985, the color photograph on page 28 of the catalog featured the red solid color (still the most popular variation) Hata for $12.50. Overwhelmed with business (and with too little time to make the kites) the Hata was left out of the next few catalogs. Jim and George were still making a handful to sell in the retail store but not enough to fill mail order demand. In 1988, with the help of a local seamstress, it was once again included in the catalog for $12.90 and a choice of colors: red, hot pink and fluorescent orange. It was the '80's after all.

In 1992, we introduced the first Into The Wind Hata variation, the Windmill Hata, with panels in multiple colors for $16.95 and switched up the colors of the solids, always keeping red but discontinuing the hot pink and fluorescent orange in favor of lime, neon blue and raspberry. Around 1995, with sales of Hatas exceeding 1,000 per year, Stan Swanson, (designer of the Elephant kite) took over production. Over the next ten or 11 years, we introduced limited edition variations including the red, white and blue USA Windmill Hata, the black and white Crystal Hata, and the tie-dyed Rainbow Hata. We added purple and gold to the solid color offerings in 2001.

In 2008, we shook things up again when availability of the spreader that we'd been purchasing for years from Glasforms was essentially discontinued. We'd been buying the spars in three-year quantities but balked when they demanded we purchase a ten year supply. So, the Hata was redesigned for the first time, made just slightly larger to accommodate a stock 3/32" spar instead of the special order spar. We also introduced two new graphics courtesy of Christoph Fokken: the Kensei Hata and Color Wheel Hata.

Unfortunately, Stan Swanson's kite production capabilities proved inadequate for the demand generated by these new designs. He's continuing to make the solid colors for us in 2009 but we've moved production of the Kensei and Color Wheel Hatas, along with two of our fighter kites, the Korean Fighter and George Peters' Indian Fighter to Heads Up in San Diego. Originally employed by Top of the Line Kites (manufacturers of the Hawaiian Team Kite and Spinoff) back in the day, Heads Up is Mike Dennis and Pam Kirk. They've been keeping "Made in the USA" alive and well for kites for the last 15 years. We're thrilled to partner with them and look forward to having our bestselling Hatas in stock all year! Efficiencies in production and materials have helped us to keep the Hata affordable. It's only $19 including line in our 2009 Into The Wind Kites & Wind Art Catalog.

Over the years, we've sold upwards of 20,000 Hatas, multiples to some customers that love it as much as we do. That's just one of the reasons it's our staff favorite. We recommend it all the time and think of it as our "one in a million" kite. And that's not too far off since we're at 20,000 and counting.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, February 13, 2009

You're Hired!

Part of preparing for the Spring season is making sure that we have enough people on staff to get the job done. Since our long-time Shipping Manager, Mike, moved back to Pennsylvania last June, we've managed to get by with just two guys taking care of our shipping and receiving responsibilities. But going into our busiest time of the year, we decided it would be smart to hire an extra person on a temporary basis to get through the next couple of months. We were lucky that just an hour or so after posting our ad on Denver's craigslist, Garrick stopped by the store to apply. Garrick started working part-time in our shipping department back in 2000 while he was attending high school. In 2002, after a brief stint in mail order answering the phones, he began working in our retail store. He left last summer to work in a bike shop (his first love) but was laid off a few weeks ago. Garrick has extensive kite knowledge (his second love) and is an energetic, dependable, conscientious employee. We're glad to have him back.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Can you hear me now?

We're still here! It's actually a little unbelievable considering that we launched a new website last week and had a new phone system installed this week. With only minor periods of being out of touch (our website was down last Saturday and we were without our internet service for most of Tuesday) we've weathered the transition. Like most of America, we're being conservative in our purchases. But when we were told last summer that our 22 year-old phones would no longer be supported because parts for them would no longer exist, we decided it wasn't worth the risk to try to make it through the Spring without a completely functional phone system. Even though much of our business is conducted online these days, we're still expecting the phone to ring off the hook once the catalogs get out there. In the meantime, let me know if you're in the market for a VERY used PREMIER phone system. I'll make you a deal.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Ready, Set, Launch

If you've visited before, then you'll probably notice right away that our website just had a face lift. This is our tenth year on the web, not counting the first couple of years when we had a presence on Yahoo. I can't remember for sure, but I don't think it was even possible to order products from the Yahoo site. Our own website at launched in December of 1999. We try to revamp it every couple of years but we're constantly tweaking it to make smaller improvements. So if things don't work like you want them to or if you have ideas on how to make better, feel free to share. Most of the changes we've made are in response to suggestions from customers. We've tried to make it easier for you to order this time around with a Quick Order Box on the home page (enter a part number from your catalog and you'll go directly to the "Add to Cart" page). We've simplified the navigation and cleaned up the search. We've added more images, more white space plus larger images and larger type. Yeah, we're getting older too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

We Deliver

Our 2009 Into The Wind Kite Catalog is becoming ink on paper as I'm typing these words. In-home dates, when you can expect to see it in your mailbox, are February 15th-18th. This year's 64-page catalog includes a number of new products from manufacturers around the globe as well as 15 Into The Wind Kites making their worldwide debut. The only downside...our catalogs will be in your hands before we'll have many of the new kites in ours. Pre-orders will be accepted on everything and we'll get them out to you as soon as they arrive. One of the bonuses of putting the catalog together this year was to actually count how many items we have online that aren't in the catalog. My preliminary count was 582 SKU's. (For those of you without a retail background, SKU's are Stock Keeping Units and include color variations of an item.) This number is always in flux since we're continually adding and discontinuing product, especially this time of year. But, anyway you slice it, that's a big number. We'd have to print a catalog twice as large to include everything. And "parts" of it (the endcaps, the spars, the ferrules) wouldn't be pretty. Which reminds me, we still stock plenty of parts and kitemaking materials but you'll need to look online to find them. Or, just give us a call. Operators are standing by.