I didn't know Phil all that well, since I worked for SD for only about a year, but I do have some fond, and vivid memories of him. If I remember right, he was a libertarian, so we argued somewhat about politics, but it was all good-natured, mostly because he was so good-natured. And re the Bastille Day sale: in summer 1978, when I was there he convinced me to do the announcement with MY (phony) French accent (Adela told me it sounded German to her, I wonder why that would be). Re music, I remember him saying dismissively that in a few years, the Stones would be playing Vegas. I also remember that his son was bi-racial, which impressed me a lot, as someone who would end up adopting kids from Peru and Bolivia. Very impressed to learn about his ultra-running and swimming skills! Glad to have the chance to remember him and learn more about his life.
Phil Brown Stories
From Al Tabor: I've two particularly resonant memories of Phil.
Phil and I shared a love of music and it was a frequent topic of our conversation. What was happening at that time (late 70's) was Punk Rock so we had to go check out a few shows at the Mabuhay Gardens...the Fab Mab...San Francisco's main punk club by night and Fillipino restaurant by day.
Phil stood out like a beacon: a large rugby shirt (we were selling tons of those at the time) wearing kinda-jock-looking guy in a sea of pale small skaggy looking punks. As a long-hair, I was only slightly less obvious. And yet it was all good natured aggression in the mosh. Phil declined to throw his weight around and the punks were surprisingly friendly. I remember having my glasses knocked off in the mosh pit and everyone stopped to help me find them before they got squashed. Then it was back to slamming.
A second memory: Phil was in charge of two retail stores...or at least marketing and such for the stores, I can't remember precisely. He definitely was in charge of ads and was always looking for new ideas. He had the idea of doing a Bastille Day sale because it could be the "Sales of Two Cities!" I remembering him pitching the concept to pretty much everyone. Based on a overall lukewarm response he proceeded. The best part was that Phil himself did the ad in a truly atrocious fake French accident. The sale was, I believe, a great success.
From Bob Woodward: There are two things I’ll always remember about Phil: his infectious laugh and his off-kilter sense of humor. Seldom, if ever, did we talk about technical, industry stuff. No, our conversations immediately digressed into whacky observations, black humor, arcane subject matter. And how we howled at all the strange and wonderful things discussed. Phil was always a welcome sight at dull trade shows and worth a regular phone post show to perk me up.
From Martin Zemitis: When the laser pointers first became cheap, Phil got one. He was like a little kid with it. He and I blew off the show [Outdoor Retailer] and played with it for a half hour or so. You could bounce it off peoples badges and they were flabbergasted. The best was aiming it at peoples drinks. Light would explode off the ice cubes in all directions.
From Paul Kramer: Phil Brown? He was actually a very sweet guy. When he first joined SD, he was in over his head often but since he figured he could, he tried. Often that was all that was necessary. He loved to cook obviously, went to cooking school, then figured I guess you can't make money at that easily, went back to Outdoor selling his microfiber towels which actually did pretty well. I think I have a set of nice mechanics open ended wrenches that have his name engraved on them that I offered back to him one time when I saw him but he said "keep them" which I did. I'll not give them away. Again, a super sweet guy.