MEC® – An Outsider’s View
Started in 1971 by a group of university students, MEC® initially operated with volunteers and an incredibly low mark-up of 20%. Due to the “non-profit” Co-op image, income-tax exemption, and extremely low prices, sales were brisk.
Over the years, and with the import of low-cost Asian products (largely from China), the company grew into a behemoth that (inadvertently or not) pushed countless small businesses out of existence.
However, MEC’s relentless expansion strategy, profligate policies, and colossal building projects, resulted in massive debt & immense operating costs, requiring an ever higher sales volume just to pay the bills.
As for “economy of scale”… MEC® seems to have put this logic into reverse, since its prices kept increasing steadily until they were no longer attractive. Consequently, sales began to weaken, causing serious capital losses. And the pandemic debacle did the rest – pushing MEC® to the edge.
Meanwhile, an American buyer was found, who wants to downsize the operation. If the deal goes through, MEC® will become a privately owned company. However, there’s a movement among MEC® members who want to cancel the deal, secure financial backing, and keep their Co-op afloat.
This seems a bit strange, since MEC® in its current form offers little advantage to members, and prices are not much different from other retailers – except for the somewhat dubious distinction that you have to pay a $5.00 membership fee, before being able to buy anything.
MEC’s downsizing may actually have a bright side. It holds the promise of bringing back diversity & opportunity to the outdoor equipment domain. Just a portion of its $500 million annual sales volume could support scores of thriving, Canadian small businesses, returning innovation, progress & healthy competition to an industry decimated and nearly monopolized by the MEC® juggernaut.
Taiga Works has consistently delivered Better Products at similar or Lower Prices. Plus, Taiga® products are all CANADIAN-MADE – not mostly imported from China & elsewhere, like at MEC®.
Taiga Works is much too small to fill the void that may be left by MEC®. But, given the chance, we would certainly try to meet any increased demand in our field of expertise: high-quality performance gear. Trouble is, the vast majority of MEC® members have never heard of us. If there was a way to make them aware of the Taiga® alternative, it would benefit both sides: MEC® members and Taiga Works.
If you have any suggestions about this matter, please let us know. We much appreciate anything that can help in our struggle to survive.