I work part time at an outfitter in the DC area, and we lock all of our North Face jackets over $200 up due to problems with theft. We also lock up the Arc'teryx jackets as well.
We also make bank selling North Face stuff. Especially if it is black and two sizes bigger than you really need. Heaven forbid if you want a XL to XXL after mid-January, because we won't have them in. At $200 to $450 a jacket, that adds up pretty quick.
So as another poster said, if you can sell lots of North Face jackets, you can afford to keep some products on the shelf that appeal to the hard core backpacker, but don't necessarily sell all that well.
I do think TNF makes some good products. I own the Pamir windstopper gloves, and they kept me warm while I was in Chicago over Christmas. They have some convertible pack pants that are not quite as good, but not quite as expensive, as the Mountain Hardware CPP that I hiked in in 2003.
Their footgear seems to be improving, but I haven't worn any personally.
We don't sell a lot of NF packs-to me, they seem to have too many cords, zippers, and straps. I generally show people the Ospreys and the Gregorys first. They are not a bad choice if you want something to take to Europe and don't want to spend $349 for an Osprey Crescent 75, though.
Their sleeping bags offer some good choices for moderately priced decent bags. NF did come out with a 900 fill down bag, but I haven't seen it.
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