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Retail Tracking Pioneer Jim Spring Dies At 75

Jim Spring

Jim Spring, the man universally respected and known as “the smartest man in the specialty retail business” died this week of throat cancer. His wife and business partner, Joy, and his three children and two grandchildren survive him.


Memorial services are planned for Thursday, Nov. 1, 4 p.m. at The Spice of Life Event Center in Boulder, Colo., and an open service and burial Nov. 10, 11 a.m. at Saint Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church in Falmouth, Mass.


The couple founded Leisure Trends Group (LTG) in 1989. They retired from active management of the firm in 2010 to lead the board of directors. Today, the company and its 50-member team continue to serve the sporting goods and specialty retail business, with much of that business in the snow sports industry. 


His career spanned 50 years and his business acumen, retail wisdom, honesty, and sense of humor lit up the industry through his consulting, articles, columns, and speeches.


“Jim's foundational discipline was to get data as ‘Rock Solid Reliable’ as mathematics could produce,” says Spring’s longtime friend David Peri, whose relationship began at Breckenridge three decades ago. “Jim’s Leisure Trends research has become part of what I do and so much a part of insights I have put my name to that he should have sued me for plagiarism.


“His data was unique. First with Gallop, using Einstein's random digit generating logarithm, then with his own methods, he collected a unique data base measured in the tens of thousands of direct first-person answers to what that specific person did that day, and the day before. He felt you couldn't go any further back and be accurate. And they could only answer about themselves. Not their family. Not their friends or neighbors. Only themselves,” Peri said. “This way he produced hyper-accurate trend lines from year to year, location to location, sport to sport, age to age.”


Spring began his career as Executive Editor of SKI Magazine and has authored three books on retail management and the use of statistical information. The concept he created was to segment Americans by their leisure time activities and their attitudes toward those activities.


He was a pioneer in the retail tracking field. Two of his breakthroughs came while running his first company, SMART. They were the first working universal vendor code and the capture of data at point-of-sale in retail store.


The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations might be made to either MPN Research Foundation (http://www.mpnresearch foundation.org/Memorial-and-Honorarium-Gifts or The Conservation Alliance Legacy Fund. http://wwwconservationalliance.com/about/get_involved.  


What It Means: David Peri makes the point that virtually all of us who have the privilege in working in the snow sports industry have benefitted – whether we know it or not – by the work of Jim Spring. Still, despite all that, this writer will remember most his humor and warmth. The loss to the leisure world is incalculable. 


Photo: Jim Spring (Leisure Trends Group) 


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