View Full Version : Opinions please... sorry this is long!

Miss Janet
08-22-2004, 02:55
I am attaching a letter that I am planning to send out very soon. It should explain what I am trying to do. I appreciate your support and your feedback!
If any of you would like to help get this off the ground, please email me soon!Miss Janetís House www.missjanetshouse.com
220 North Elm Avenue
Erwin, Tennessee 37650

To Whom It May Concern:
The Outdoor Industry Association recently released the findings from a six year study of "human powered outdoor activities" in America. For the 6th straight year they found a significant increase in the number of people participating in hiking and backpacking. This study showed that people of all ages are spending more of their leisure time and money perusing these activities. This growing trend has many implications for service related businesses like my own which serves the many needs of day hikers, long distance backpackers and Appalachian Trail Thruhikers.

Miss Janetís House is fast becoming one of the most popular backpacker hostels on the Appalachian Trail. My home and business are located in the heart of Erwin, Tennessee near such AT highlights as Big Bald, the Beauty Spot, Unaka Mountain and the awe inspiring Roan Highlands as well as in town favorites like the Erwin Burrito! The dependable services, hiker friendly atmosphere and the ideal location bring hundreds of hikers through my door each year. I estimate that I have assisted over 10,000 hikers with planning, shuttles, lodging and countless other needs over the past 10 years. While I am not an experienced backpacker myself, I believe that I am in a unique position to realize a need that many of these new outdoor enthusiasts have. There is a real need for basic outdoor education and guided backpacking experiences for those that are new to this outdoor activity. I feel that I am in an ideal situation to be able to provide this instruction for a number of hikers each year and I have been encouraged by many people to do so.

Miss Janetís House will be hosting a series of backpacking workshops beginning this fall. These workshops will include a curriculum that is being designed by a panel of accomplished long distance backpackers, hiking clubs, outfitters stores, outdoor educators and many other interested organizations and individuals. The workshops will be led by highly experienced long distance backpackers and alumni AT Thruhikers and 2,000 Milers. The support for this project has been very positive and everyone agrees that the hands on, on the trail teachable moments approach, will be a great learning experience for all beginning hikers and just plain fun for everyone. I am working with the United States Forest Service and the Appalachian Trail Conference to obtain a special outfitters guide permit to allow parts of these classes to be conducted on the Appalachian Trail. While this application is in progress these trips will be offered at no charge to the participants and conducted by volunteer guides.

The key ingredient to making these workshops successful will be the chance for participants to utilize different kinds of equipment while out in the field. I feel that it is very important for new hikers and backpackers to have the opportunity to touch, see, feel, manipulate, taste, use, test and experience the newest and best outdoor equipment and products that are available. I would like to be able to provide some of your products designed for hiking and backpacking to the participants in these classes. I believe that these workshops would generate very willing buyers that have had the chance to see your gear demonstrated and used on the trail. While most of the people taking these workshops will have used, borrowed or outdated equipment that will suffice for the class, many will be outfitting themselves for this new outdoor activity after they complete the workshop. If a person has the chance to try a new tent, backpack or pair of hiking poles while on the trail, they will be more likely to want to buy this gear for themselves.

I am looking for gear manufactures, large and small, to help sponsor this educational effort. While I have favorite pieces of gear or personal preferences, I am not asking for particular samples, models or styles of anything. I am asking you and your company to consider what you would like these people to see and test while on the trail during these workshops. Consider the benefit from the exposure your products would have. Consider what you feel would be the most import things for beginners backpacker to have the opportunity to try. In return, I would supply your company with ongoing reviews of your products and sponsorship credit in all advertising and class materials. I would also include any of your company catalogs, brochures, product discount coupons, samples or advertising novelties that you choose to provide in the informational packet each person will receive during the class. The gear, equipment and products that you choose to provide for use in these classes would never be sold or used in any way other than for the intended purpose.

Thank you for taking the time to consider what I am proposing. I am very excited at the chance to offer these classes and demonstrate your specialized products, to people that are just getting into hiking and backpacking. I am also excited to have the chance to work more closely with people, companies, agencies and organizations that are involved in different aspects of something that has become so important to me and much more than just a business. I look forward to talking to you or your representative in the near future.

Thank you.

08-22-2004, 08:16
Sweet. :clap

Do you think that some of this gear be displayed/demonstrated at the SoRUCK in January?

<BTW, are WhiteBlaze folks interested or aware of the SoRUCK?>


08-22-2004, 08:48
Miss Janet,
It sounds like a fantastic idea!! I think you should charge a nominal fee though, to cover your costs.

08-22-2004, 09:07
i'm with LRM!

charge a nominal fee of $20 bucks or so....for the workshop.
folks coming in for a workshop have money in their pockets...& hikers have a lil' cash & usually a bit of plastic with them ;) ....

we're supporting you!
let us know if the Jaybird can help out in anyway....maybe you can get guest speakers...like Model T to come by for a talk! :D

Miss Janet
08-22-2004, 09:10
"Miss Janet,
It sounds like a fantastic idea!! I think you should charge a nominal fee though, to cover your costs."

Yes, there will be expenses especially in this start up phase but my agreement with the Forest Service Permit officer is that I DO NOT CHARGE PEOPLE TO PARTICIPATE ON THE TRAIL. So, this will give us this fall and winter to work out the kinks before we have the permit and can charge a fee to cover the expenses.

Right now the increased business just from having more people stay here during the "off" thruhiker season will be appreciated.

If any of you want to plan some hiking in this area in the next months, I will be happy to help you. If a group of you come I will even cook you breakfast!!

Miss Janet
08-22-2004, 09:18
SHHH, Jaybird, don't warn Model T yet, he is on my list!

Actually, I am blessed to know so many of you that would be perfect to speak to these small groups, show them something exciting you have developed, share slide shows, tell trail stories, take them hiking... You all have so much to share with new hikers and dreamers. That is why online communities like Whiteblaze are so wonderful! The idea for doing these workshops and the format that they will be conducted in will hopefully give hikers the same feelings of this helpful community. Of course, all participants will become members of Whiteblaze when they register!

SGT Rock
08-22-2004, 10:45
Miss Janet,

I think this sounds like a good idea. It would be nice for someone new to backpacking have a chance to see, feel and use some gear and learn what they may need and may not need before drop a grand or two for a thru-hike kit. I can see the gear manufacturers that already know about you having some interest in comming so they can demonstrate, and maybe even sell their stuff to someone right there. To some this may seem too comercial, but I think it is a hell of a better idea than walking into some chain store clueless and buying what the clerk thinks you need, or mail ordering a bunch of gear based on what you read on some internet message board from a bunch of know it all hikers ;) LOL!

I would LOVE to see the other part, which I would think is just as interesting, if not even more interesting: the list of experiecned hikers and what they plan on going over. I think some good ideas would be like:

Gear Repairs
Shelter Ettiquete
Field cooking
Trail First Aid

I am sure there are some more good ideas for stuff that would be nice to learn. I think some of that stuff could be done in your back yard, and then some would work best if the person that gave the class could be there at the end of the day on the trail to help out people with a little mentorship if the attende needs it or asks for it.

And I would love to eat breakfast there again :D

Jack Lincoln
08-23-2004, 00:55
Warren Doyle has been doing this same thing for years.

Janet, why don't you just come out and say that you expect to make a profit from this endeavor? You know this is the truth. I wish you the best in this regards.

Prospective thru-hikers need no damn training phase. This type of thing is taking all the fun out of the whole experience. Just like the internet did. Let folks experience for themselves how they will react in relation to their equipment and let them see for themselves what lies around the next bend.

I mean no harm with this post. Prospective thrus might need to be just left alone.



08-23-2004, 01:02
Mr. Lincoln, you have just stepped way out on the thin ice in accusing Miss Janet of being a profiteer. Get ready for a well deserved barrage of negative responses!

Miss Janet
08-23-2004, 01:40
This is not a hobby for me ... I can't afford to do it all for free. Yes sir, eventually I would love to see a small profit from these classes when I have the permit. I would love to find a profit in any of this "hiker business"! What I get from this business is more than just money. Now the expenses are easy to find... insurance, sales tax, lisence fees, gas, van repairs, toilet paper, laundry soap, quadruple electric and water bills... the list goes on and on! But I am happy with just making a living... I just want to be able to make a living all year! I never have understood why anyone would have a problem with me wanting to make enough profit to be able to keep doing this "business". I am trying hard to find ways to be productive in this community and still be able to live. This time of the year is a challenge.

And remember this... I am a preschool teacher ... I am an encourager... I am a mother... I want people to have the best possible chance to be able to realize a dream. Are you a thruhiker? If you have ever tried and failed at anything then you know you wised you had known better what to do... so don't knock people for wanting to learn and don't knock people willing to teach!! This nothing like Mr. Doyles Thruhiker Institute!! He would get a laugh out of that!

Mountain Dew
08-23-2004, 05:12
jack lincoln, "Janet, why don't you just come out and say that you expect to make a profit from this endeavor?"

jack lincoln, (thread:rendevous motel/ post #30) , "Furthermore, any business establishment on the trail is there to generate revenue for the owner."

You imply that she was trying to be deceitful by not coming out and saying that she would charge for those services. Obviously she would charge for them. It's logically implied that a charge would be levied. Was there a need for her to come out and talk about the fee for this service without having all the details already worked out yet ? Common sense dictates that there will be a fee unless you think her children live off of crumbs. And don't think your transparent compliments and well wishes after your underlying BS were not noticed.

SGT Rock
08-23-2004, 06:46
Geez! I am with Dew on this.

Like Mrs Janet can afford to feed, house, shuttle, and take care of the masses of hikers for free. So what if she sees a profit? That is sort of the nature of a business anyway. At least she isn't trying to gouge prices or something. $20 seems very fair especially when you consider the average hostel charges about $12 just to stay there in the first place. Just the company at Mrs Janet is worth hanging out there. If she charges too much, and no one comes, then it either quits or the price goes down. If the thing is a hit and the price goes up and people keep coming, then the value of what she is offering is more than what she is asking to begin with...

Anyway, I actually see a need for something like this. Mrs Janet's Place ain't just a flophouse, and Mrs Janet ain't just a business. She takes care of people, she really seems to care about hikers (from what I saw) and she also has a home and family to support and she has figured out how to accommodate doing both at the same time. If more "businesses" ran like Mrs Janet's Place, the US would probably be a better place.

08-23-2004, 09:08
Hey Miss Janet -

There is a site on the internet that has been running for several years now. The guy's name is Jerry Goller and he has been getting free gear from manufactures for years now. The catch? If you are selected to get a piece of gear, you have to write several detailed reports on that piece of gear.

Anyway, that isn't exactly what you are looking for, but this guy knows a lot of people in the right places at gear companies. This is his hobby. So you might want to try contacting him and see if he would be willing to help you out or direct you in the right place.

You can mention and I told you to contact him. I was very involved in the site for a while (I was the first member on the old Yahoo site) but I quit a couple of years ago because, IMO, the reviewing process became too lengthy. However, back when I was involved I tested quite a few items and emailed with Jerry several times. Email me off-board if you want more info, Miss Janet.


Here is the site:


Jack Tarlin
08-23-2004, 15:09
Miss Janet:

Great idea! Keep us informed as to your plans and how we can help.

Mr. Lincoln:

Thanx again for yet another kind, instructive, and positive post. You never let us down.
Incidentally, you spend some time in your post telling us what prospective thru-hikers need, don't need, and so on. You certainly seem to be speaking with the voice of authority! Please tell us about your thru-hiking experience so we can all decide for ourselves the usefulness and worth of your informative posts.

Big Guy
08-23-2004, 20:36
Great idea. The idea you should make a profit is not bad. You should be paid for the services you provide. Even though we have not met nor have I stayed at your hostel the information on this board is indicates you are fair in your dealings and give great service at a fair price. In fact you have given something much greater to thru and other hikers on the AT, "Your friendship!!"
If you do a section on hammock camping I might come especially if you can get Sgt Rock or Medicine man to teach it.

Mountain Dew
08-24-2004, 04:23
Chomp... :clap

TJ aka Teej
08-24-2004, 20:18
Miss Janetís House will be hosting a series of backpacking workshops beginning this fall.
Wonderful! Thanks, and best of luck, Miss Janet!:D