By Cath Prisk
There’s no denying, I struggle with the urge to overspend, to follow a deal, to bag a bargain. I set up the Outdoor People shop in no small part because I love outdoors gear. Get me in an outdoors shop and I want it all. On trips to the USA, REI is always top of my places to visit. Any town or city I visit I’ll hunt out the little independents selling sleeping bags, technical hoodies and leak-proof coffee cups. These days, I call it ‘research’, but there’s no getting away from my latent acquisitive streak.
Twenty years ago, over-consuming wasn’t an option for me: I couldn’t afford it. Now I have a little disposable income, I really have to use my willpower to buy only the stuff I love, and buy for life.
I recently listened to Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, about the development of Patagonia. Hearing about his approach reinforces our belief in what we do. We only sell gear we believe in, and we sell great gear that can in some way help you get outdoors to the park, on your commute, for a weekend camping or a big adventure to the mountains… Alongside this practical purpose, most of our products are made in a way that minimises impact on the planet. Our Wild Walks and camping trips are set up to connect children and their families more closely to Mother Nature so they will care about the environment near and far, as they will be playing outdoors far more.
The Outdoor People shop funds Outdoor People’s purpose. We have to cover costs of course, including fair wages (we’re a Living Wage employer), but the point is not to make money. The point is to get everyone outdoors more.
Black Friday makes me supremely uncomfortable… Not only was it developed in the USA specifically to fuel over-consumption, to encourage you to buy more than you need, it is at odds with shopping locally, and shopping for goods that are fairly traded and responsibly sourced.
Think through the whole supply chain that creates the perfect backpack. Who paid the workers that harvested the cotton for the canvas? Who made the wax to proof it? Who designed the pack so it will be just right for you? Who sewed up those pockets? Who carried it to the shop where you are buying it? Who trained the sales person who helped you decide which is the perfect backpack for you?
Cut-price goods mean someone is losing out somewhere in that chain… either the sustainability of the product is compromised, or someone is not being paid a fair wage for their labour.
Our prices are competitive, which means our margins are small. But we make sure that everyone involved in providing the goods we sell is, to the best of our knowledge, paid a fair price for what they do. And, as a social enterprise, our profits support our projects and campaign work.
So this Black Friday, and its twin ‘Cyber Monday’, like everyday, we invite you to get outside. If you need some gear to help make that easier, you know where we are.