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Over the past few months, I have had the privilege of working with a great group of people from New York City who currently go by the name The OpenSky Project. They’ve been working with me and a bunch of other great bloggers and experts to develop personalized shopping experiences on their web sites.

Their philosophy is refreshing, and I absolutely agree with it – basically, with online shopping, the experience has become efficient and cheap – but highly impersonal. If you’re looking for something to buy, you just type it in Google or Amazon and get a list of corporate sites that try to outdo each other by slashing pennies off the cost. But can you trust them to give you the best stuff out there? Probably not.

Even on Amazon, I’ve long-abandoned reading the user comments and reviews when I’m looking to spend some cash on something. How do I know if UserXYZ knows what he’s talking about when he says a GPS receiver didn’t work in the woods? How do I know User123 isn’t someone with a vested interest in getting a product to a 5-star rating? I don’t.

OpenSky’s take is one that hearkens back to a time before Big Box Retailers – when if you wanted to know what the best pair of hiking boots were, you’d go to the local outdoor store and ask someone who you trusted, and who knew what they were talking about. Hopefully, over the hundreds of posts I’ve written, you’ve come to trust Modern Hiker’s opinion on trails and gear … or can at least concede that I know what I’m talking about!

Today, I’m excited to announce that the Modern Hiker store is officially up and running. It is still very much a work in progress, and while there are only a small number of items available for sale right now, the selection will be expanding in the near future as more manufacturers get on board.

As a special offer to get people familiarized with the service, OpenSky is offering free shipping on all orders made through Tuesday, October 27th. Give it a look, and if you have any favorite items you’d like to see in the storefront, feel free to let me know!

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Image by lumierefl.

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