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The business model was basically lifted from the REI, with members providing start-up money with a start 5 membership fee.
“REI is working as a collaborator, (we thought), ‘Why shouldn’t we do that?’ So we did, ”Byers said.
MEC started from a small office on Hastings Street, but really began to grow when it moved to a second-floor retail space in West Fort, Kitsilano.
“I only worked for them for four years, then we found two or three other believers (to take possession),” Byers, 71, retired and lives in Kilovana. “Tom Herbst came to the scene. It’s called the Mountain Equipment Co-op, but I’ve always argued that it should be called Tom BC.
“Do you know Tom’s Maine? It is the largest outdoor store in the eastern United States. After I left he was the heart of Mountain Co-op. ”
Herbst said he was “amazed” at how it turned out.
“The thing with collaboration is that you are always under pressure to raise more capital,” he said. “We were able to grow more organically. If it’s a real contribution, a $ 5 (membership) per person, you can not raise capital quickly. No one will give you a million dollars to expand you.”
Between 2008 and 2019, under the direction of former CEO David Lobistore, steady growth accelerated to 22 stores, doubling its membership.
Gray said the growing trend towards online sales and the arrival of international retailers in Canada has probably forced Lobstore to expand.