As mentioned, I had to change my plans for some New Mexico backpacking.
I used my usual methods of finding a new place to backpack. I settled on a place in Utah that is a bit longer of a drive, but should be (just barely) within my personal threshold for after-work travel.
But I needed an overview map.
Since I was on-call this past weekend, a good time to venture into the town proper and get a map.
I went to the local map store. The manager (owner?) apologized profusely. He had made a mistake and there was a delay on not just map I needed, but a lot of maps. Mistakes happen. I make my own share of them from time to time..
So I went upstairs to a well known local outdoor store that was sold to a Texas outdoor company fairly recently.
This local outdoor store is known to be one of the best climbing, mountaineering and backcountry ski stores in the country.
However, it changed.
The tents, packs, stoves and similar items used to be in a large area. These hard goods are now shoved into one small store corner. The area where all the hard goods were sold? It is now an “outlet” store. Clothing, shoes and similar lifestyle clothing.
And the map section? Smaller selection than before it seemed to me. But with more maps for such places as Costa Rica or Nepal. Hmm….
I ventured into the very busy Boulder traffic and went to REI.
REI did not have the the map I needed, but plenty of clothing for sale. And maps for Costa Rica and Nepal. Again.
One more store…
A local hardware store that has been family owned since the 1950s. They have everything from plants to hammers to outdoor gear. And a wonderful collection of maps for the local areas. They serve the local community well. No surprise, not the map I needed, however.
- Local map store: Out of many maps. Someone made a mistake. It happens. I moved on.
- Local hardware store: Great collection for local areas and nearby. They serve the local community well. Did not have the map I needed. No surprise. Really not a problem.
- Two outdoor stores: They are selling a lifestyle. Supplies for the outdoors are secondary, it seems..or perhaps transitioning to this motif at the least.
Which brings me to Amazon. I really don’t need to purchase a lifestyle. As a person with a busy day-job and increasingly busy part-time set of projects, I don’t want to spend 1.5 hours on errands for no purpose. Factor in the time to recover my groove for the project I was working on, and I lost much valuable time from my time bank.
I went home, went on Amazon. Made a few mouse clicks. My map, and some pet supplies for good measure, will be here Monday.
Outdoor stores are increasingly about a lifestyle.
For those who just want specific outdoor gear, clothing and supplies and value their time, brick and mortar (B&M) stores are making less and less sense as they transition to “lifestyle” stores.
REI and similar do well because they have great consumer policies and are willing to answer questions. They can’t be discounted. Information is valuable. But what they are really selling is a lifestyle.
Selling a lifestyle is profitable. And makes more money than selling to curmudgeons who just want to get outdoors.
But I don’t care about a climbing wall, a coffee shop or boxes of last year’s clothing and shoes on clearance. And while I am no expert on many outdoor subjects, I know enough to be able figure out what supplies I need for an upcoming backpacking trip.
I want a map. And with a few mouse clicks, it is on its way for a Monday delivery.
And since I don’t always want to wear worn out outdoor clothing, I find a few mouse clicks will bring the casual clothing to my door. And with much less hassle and/or less expensive prices than the boxes of clothing to sort through at a B&M store.
I value my time. A lesson relearned for me this past Saturday.
And Amazon Prime has been wonderful for supplies, maps, some outdoor clothing and so on. Sometimes saving me money but always saving me time. Naturally, the online versions of these B&M stores work well to accomplish the same goal at times, too.
But as more outdoor stores transition to lifestyle stores, I’ll stick to mouse clicks. Buy what I need for the outdoors.
And avoid the lifestyle stores for the most part. I have my own lifestyle: I hike, I ski, I backpack, I camp.
The biggest problem that I have with online sellers is with stuff that I really need to try on, like shoes. We have no stores like REI within about 80 miles of my home. Wandering around stores for hours on end is not what I consider recreation. I’ll go when I am looking for something specific, especially when I know that the item is in stock at that store. For that information, I have to go online and not all store sites will show local stock. I buy online quite regularly, often from Amazon, but I try not to order… Read more »
I do love some Amazon Prime for outdoor things. I especially like it for trying out various foods. It’s an easy way to try out bars and other non-perishables. However, REI is my right now store. I have one about 10 minutes away and if I need something real quick, I’ll try there first. I do agree that they are selling a life style first and I’d like to think I’m not buying in.
REI provides excellent customer support and I have taken advantage of their outlet (online) sales a time or two. Mainly for their house brand gear which is a good value. A good company. I just suspect their customer base is not me as much for in the store. Then again, my wife says I’d mail order groceries if I could, too. 🙂
It is a wonder brick and mortar businesses survive now, seems they are getting real good at shooting themselves in the foot. Those who can afford to buy are often older and already have a “lifestyle” so this trend is not logical or sustainable IMO.
Remember to recycle those Amazon boxes! 🙂