Pictured above Kenneth Slack taken in the 1930s outside 38 Rosemary Street
W Slack and Sons was established in 1902 by my grandfather William Slack. My father and uncle ran the business before I came along so previous to my now 25 years experience of selling outdoor equipment I was brought up within the outdoor trade. This experience enables me to decide upon which quality brands to stock.
Originally the business started in the making of surgical shoes and made to measure footwear providing me with an extended knowledge of the footwear industry. William Slack founded his business on August 26th 1902 on his nineteenth birthday. William was employed as a shoe factory hand stamper at the Mansfield Shoe Company and was considered a good worker often finding himself waiting at his machine because of slower progress upstream. As a result he was able to operate three machines simultaneously and requested a pay rise to acknowledge his extra efforts. When this request was refused he resigned. Out of work, his mother gave him 21s for his birthday, of which 12s remained after he had paid his board. With this he went to Nottingham and purchased tools and leather and started up his own business making and repairing boots and shoes and for his first job he made his mother a pair of slippers. William's business is listed in Kelly's Directory 1904 where he describes himself as a boot maker on Layton Avenue Mansfield. Within two years he was operating from rented premises on Queen Street Mansfield paying 5s a week rent.
Two of William's sons, Kenneth and Colin followed into the business and carried on making shoes and in the mid 1950s a customer requested a pair of hiking boots which were duly supplied and another line was added to the business. For the next thirty years the shoe making and outdoor equipment ran side by side. Both Kenneth and Colin spent their entire working lives working in the business. By the mid 1970s Kenneth had retired and Colin was in sole charge of W Slack and Sons. He built a reputation for selling quality equipment and spent his days in the shop and his evenings in the workshop making shoes and had a national reputation.
Colin suffered a brain haemorrhage in 1986 whilst working in the workshop and never fully recovered. His son John, who had just turned eighteen and had only worked in the business at weekends was faced with the choice of either take over or close down. He chose to continue but without the skills or training in leatherwork he could not continue making shoes and had to develop further the outdoor equipment retail side of the business.
2002 was our centenary and we were very proud to receive a letter from the Queen to acknowledge our achievement and the business keeps growing and evolving into new markets which is one of our secrets of success. History seems to have repeated through the three generation of the Slack family who have taken the business under control and the future has yet to be decided but we hope that in another hundred years W Slack and Sons will be trading as a family business living up to our motto "Service and Satisfaction".
The North Yorkshire Moors was chosen to test the Montane range of clothing and as usual the weather didn't let us down - it rained all the time, so perfect to try out their waterproofs! We camped for three days near Robin Hood's Bay and did some coastal walking and we also took our mountain bikes. This was my first experience of Montane clothing and I was impressed enough to stock a wide selection of their range after this trip.
My latest obsession - skiing! Taken during my recent gear testing session in the French Alp's resort of Tignes. There was plenty of snow and daytime temperatures were well below freezing, the ideal opportunity to try out Woolpower merino wool baselayers. My 200g turtleneck Woolpower top was all I needed under my ski jacket and it kept me warm and wicked the sweat away, keeping me comfortable all week. Trekmates ski gloves also got full marks as did the Meindl Emotion XCR shoes which were comfortable from day one and apart from ski boots were the only footwear I took with me. Roll on next winter for my further skiing adventures.
Mt.Baldo, Lake Garda, Italy - September 2009
One of the highlights of our recent trip to Malcesine at the side of Lake Garda was a 45km mountain bike ride from the top of Mt.Baldo to Torbole at the North of the lake. Some of the route down was rather steep, narrow and strewn with large rocks - great fun! My Montane Featherlite Smock was perfect for keeping the wind out and packed down really small when we reached lower levels where the temperature was 30 degrees. Spectacular scenery from the mountain top down to the vineyards in the valley below. My Paramo Crop Cargo Trousers were as Paramo say the perfect travel companion and were used the whole week. Great to have so many secure pockets and nice and comfortable to wear.
Pila, Italian Alps - February 2010
The perfect opportunity to try my Canada Goose Yorkville Parka on the ski slopes. The question for weeks before was would Canada Goose be suitable for skiing? Would I get too hot? Well I am delighted to say that for me it worked perfectly and all I required underneath was a short sleeve wicking type baselayer. I was toasty warm all week even when sat on a 20 minute chairlift in a blizzard going to the top of the mountain. The hood did not get in the way whilst skiing and provided excellent protection when not on the move. Evening temperatures were well below -20C but it was still just a thin single layer required under my Yorkville as we enjoyed the apres ski.
We returned from Pila with the wonderful news that we were expecting our first child. Ben was born on Sunday 7th November 2010 and he will certainly be changing our outdoor adventures but definitely wont be stopping them. Planning to get him on skis as soon as he is walking which he should cope with easily as he has already completed many black runs whilst starting his first few weeks growing inside his mummy.
Ben William Slack with proud Dad on his first "walk" at 3 weeks old - November 2010
Our son Ben is now into his second year and we cannot believe how quickly the time has passed, he is making good progress and has taken his first steps. He has so much energy and is guaranteed to put a smile on the face of everyone he meets. I can see lots of outdoor adventures with him - cycling, walking and skiing.
Business has been busy recently and 2011 was our best ever, so a big thank you to all customers new and old. In particular our Canada Goose range is proving to be most popular and we have customers from all over the UK, Europe and beyond purchasing this exclusive range from us. We had customers recently who were visiting London from Australia and they made a point of travelling to our shop in Mansfield to buy Canada Goose parkas for the next leg of their journey to Norway.
Please be aware that there are many counterfeit Canada Goose products being sold online - only purchase from authorised dealers, you will find our details on the official Canada Goose website so you can be totally confident about the products we sell.
Canada Goose clothing was used on BBC's Frozen Planet series with David Attenborough and crew who are all kitted out with this fabulous range of extreme cold weather clothing. You will also see it regularly used on Ice Pilots. The Top Gear team used Canada Goose clothing when they drove to The North Pole. We have recently supplied Canada Goose clothing to cameramen filming Premier League football for Sky Sports as well as CNN's Moscow correspondent.
Our reputation for Canada Goose continues to grow and we feel so lucky to have so many wonderful customers from near and far. Some exciting developments with Canada Goose for the coming year. We are now being supplied directly from Canada Goose which means it is now possible to obtain items which we do not hold in stock. So contact us if there is anything from their range which you would like us to obtain for you, we still place our orders long in advance to be sure of delivery. We are also expanding our range and later this year we will be stocking a childrens / youth range, legwear and a wide selection of lightweight down jackets such as the Hybridge range.
Our son Ben had his first taste of The Alps when we are took him to La Tania which is part of Les Trois Vallees. We stayed at Le Chalet Chocolat and our hosts Carly and Lawrence there were wonderful and we highly recommend them and would definitely stay again. Ben is now our official Canada Goose childrens range gear tester and he was kept nice and warm during his time which he spent sledging and snowman building - next time you will be learning to ski young man!
Red run into La Tania (below) Ben enjoying the scenery (above)
It has been rather a testing few months with the very sad loss of my mother Jacqueline who lost her brave fight against cancer on May 28th 2013. Not only lost my mum but she was also my business partner, always being there to support and guide me. Mum was very proud of how the business was developing, particularly our links with Canada Goose. On a brighter note; June 29th 2013 our daughter Katie Jacklyn was born, fortunately blessed with a beautiful healthy sister to our son Ben. Just want to say a big thank you to all customers who have sent their love and support - John.