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Horny Toad Activewear Acquires Nau

Nau Inc. has found a buyer, less than two months after the Portland, Ore.-based outdoor retailer shuttered and bid "Goodbye for Nau" on its Web site.

Nau Inc. has found a buyer, less than two months after the Portland, Ore.-based outdoor retailer shuttered and bid “Goodbye for Nau” on its Web site.

Horny Toad Activewear Inc., a Santa Barbara, Calif.-based activewear firm, bought the five-door sustainable concept brand that closed after 14 months in business, a demise its management attributed to the drying up of credit. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

When a scaled-back Nau reopens on Aug. 1 with about a dozen of its 60 original employees, Nau will no longer sell through its own stores, but rather wholesale in about 20 “like-minded retailers,” like Horny Toad’s concept store Lizard Lounge in Portland, and on nau.com.

“We’ve been fans of the concept from afar and were very sad to hear the news it closed,” said Gordon Seabury, chief executive officer of Horny Toad. “While it was virtually impossible for Nau to scale back in its current big idea form as the economy changed, we are able to treat it more as a start-up and scale it back.”

Founded in 2005, Nau’s plan was to design and sell outdoor apparel made from renewable materials, such as recycled polyester and merino wool, as well as give a portion of sales to consumer-selected charities, practices that will continue under the new owner.

After launching online sales in February 2007, the company opened four physical stores — called Webfronts because the stores carried limited inventory and consumers would order items to be delivered — in the next two months in Boulder, Colo.; Bellevue, Wash.; Chicago, and Portland, and its fifth store in Los Angeles right before it closed in early May.

Nau’s management, Adidas and Nike veterans, blamed the company’s failure on the tight credit markets. After using the $35 million in capital it had raised, the company had cut back its 2008 planned store openings from 20 to five.

Horny Toad will keep on a dozen Nau executives, including Hal Arneson as creative director, Mark Galbraith as head of product design, and Ian Yolles as head of marketing.