MEC Betrayal - CycleBlaze

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MEC Betrayal

Steve Miller/Grampies

What REI is to cyclists and outdoor enthusiasts in the States, MEC (Mountain Equipment Coop) is to Canada. Both are coops, and generally much loved and appreciated by their members. Coops, credit unions, and the like are a very positive form of corporate organization, although admittedly they are often too big for members to know or care who is actually running the show. But coops are generally known for ethical sourcing of products, and fair labour practices.

So we learned with dismay today that MEC is being sold to a venture capital company. The board decided this on their own, without informing or consulting the members. If like us you think this is wrong, and bad for cyclists, then sign the petition, located here at change.org.

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2 months ago
Mike AylingTo Steve Miller/Grampies

That is terrible news Steve.

Is the Co-op in financial difficulties as a result of Covid?

Mike

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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Mike Ayling

It is said that although Covid didn't help, MEC was suffering from too rapid expansion and a shift in focus from hard core outdoors gear to urban chic. 

However if like Costco they would have asked an annual membership fee or suchlike, their 5 million members could surely have bailed them out.

As it is, they had a net worth of about $150 million , and in 2019 made a loss of 11 million on sales of about 450 million.  The sharks that bought them no doubt got a good price.

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2 months ago
Robert EwingTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Recreational Equipment Inc. is far from a the pure co-op it started as. In the early 90s the board of directors staged a coup of sorts rewriting the bylaws making member/owner control and approval of the management nonexistent. Now the board and upper management are self perpetuating and only need answer to the consumers' wallets, member or not. The yearly vote for the BOD is ceremonial at best.

It is still a reasonable place to shop. Gets high marks as employee friendly. And has manage to stay in business in the time of the Amazon. But it no longer gets my "first place to shop" loyalty as in earlier times when Jim Whittaker, 1st American on Everest and president of REI, would meet you at the door and ask how you were doing.

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2 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Steve Miller/Grampies

I signed the petition, though I think it's neutral for *cyclists*.  Where MEC has brick-and-mortar in Canada, there are also local bike shops for which MEC is providing stiff competition.  MEC started as an outdoor equipment store and it should have maintained its focus on that, perhaps extending its base to equipment for other self-propelled outdoor activities.  I'd include cycle touring and bikepacking in that, but not yoga.

Recently I visited the new flagship MEC store in Vancouver in my search for sealant (for tubeless tires).  I use a brand that used to be easy to get at MEC but there was none (of any brand) in the store.  Other parts for tubeless setups, yes, but no sealant--the thing that needs to be topped up occasionally.

When the announcement came, I was shocked to discover just how bad MEC's financial situation was and the reasons why so many popular products were "no longer available" and that members could no longer place special orders.

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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Jacquie Gaudet

Ah, I wasn't really thinking of MEC's bicycle products specifically, but the rain jackets, waterproof socks, windbreakers, water purifiers, tents, sleeping bags, etc. of theirs that we use while cycling. In fact, some cycling friends had serious problems for instance with low quality of their tire tubes, and no satisfaction in getting them to own up to it.

In general, we have found North American sold outdoor gear to be inferior. Should we ever get back to Europe, we expect we will be gearing up at Decathlon!

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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Of course you’ll get back to Europe.

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2 months ago
Jacquie GaudetTo Scott Anderson

There are a few issues for Canadians just now, the big one being 14 days of quarantine when you come home.  The other is health insurance.  We have it at home but need to buy travel health insurance when we go somewhere else and, until very recently, this hasn't been available because there is still an official government travel advisory in effect: avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada.

When I mentioned to Al that you and Rachel were going to Croatia, he wondered about that and then answered his own question with "it's probably cheaper for their insurer if they aren't in the US".

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2 months ago
Keith KleinTo Steve Miller/Grampies

Hi Steve and Dodie,

Too bad about MEC. But if you are coming to Europe and can fly Icelandair, which often has good prices, the mandatory stop over in Iceland can be put to good use in the FABULOUS outdoor stores in Reykjavik. Best stores I’ve ever visited for the stuff you really want when you are outdoors in bad weather. Come to think of it, bad weather is normal in Iceland which probably accounts for the stores. There are several to choose from, and though the prices are high, the quality is too.

I have a discount card at Decathlon, and use it frequently, but on the whole the shops in Reykjavik are still better.

Hope you are well and safe.

Cheers,

Keith 

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1 month ago