I took this photo at a MEC store years ago because it struck me as contrasting with the values that MEC (once) stood for. Run “Looks.” Not “set a new PR” or “explore new territory” or “Gear to keep you active” but: “think of how cute you’ll look in this running gear”
Yesterday it was announced that MEC had entered an agreement to be sold. Not to just any company but a US-based private equity firm.. They types that often squeeze as much value as possible from the purchase above all else. We’ve seen this story play out in our community’s startup space.
The sale is not entirely unsurprising, as in my opinion the writing had been on the wall for some time. Long gone is the R&D component that resulted in some absolutely phenomenal field-tested MEC-branded gear. Gone were the days where staff were all outdoor enthusiasts, now replaced with retail robots that when asked about gear, would just read off tags. There was the odd holdout “old-timer”, but they were rare to find and you were sad when they moved on.
I imagine that the board was in a difficult place and had limited options with this recent decision. Regardless, I can’t think of a worse possible outcome and I feel like the board really let all of us members down. To me it’s a massive negative for the Canadian outdoor industry. In our area, the arrival of MEC resulted in several ma-and-pa shops closing down. With a US company suddenly having the keys to a giant retail operation, will we see more of that?
I am hopefully for the industry over the *long term* and still feel like there’s room for a co-op style or community-based model in Canada (I would absolutely welcome REI with open arms up here. Dividend cheques are rad!).
In the meantime it is more important than EVER to support your local shops like @skiuphill.ca @valhallapureoutfitters @aquabaticsalberta . Keep the locally-owned-outdoor-enthusiast gear shops alive and well!
How does this news make YOU feel? Whats your favorite local shop that you are going to love and support even more now? Whats your favorite MEC story or piece of gear?