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Old 10-19-07, 08:51 PM   #1
bgilchrist
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MEC the Canadian Version of WalMart? Discuss.

So has anyone had any problems with MEC lately. I have noticed alot of things when I go in there, and it makes me think of the WalMart going into towns and driving out small retailers.....

We had alot of smaller 'outdoor stores' in Winnipeg, since MEC has come in, a few have closed, and some have attributed their closing to MEC's presence.

lately staff have no clue about anything they sell

The local store is poorly stocked ( No Winter cycling gear in Winnipeg?)

A commitment to Canadian made, sustainable products, yet they close serratus

Keep opening more stores ( next one in Burlington, ON)

trend away from outside and backcountry activities - e.g selection of stoves and tents shrinks but I can get pyrex wine glasses?

Board of directors seems weighted heavily to each coast, and doesn't seem to have regional representation

minutes and transcripts from AGMs take extremely long to get disseminated ( if at all - last AGM was in april, website said minutes were to be posted June, then July and now there is no mention of them at all)

Is there suitable independence between board and managment? At last AGM, a rule about movement between the two was waived to allow a board member to assume a senior management position.

I may be wrong, but I think their treasurer was the CEO prior to becoming treasurer.

Just some points to discuss / think about ..........

(and as a disclaimer, I may not necessarily agree with the above, I am just putting them out for discussion)
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Old 10-19-07, 08:57 PM   #2
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Nah, Canadian Tire is the Canadian Walmart. MEC is the REI of Canada. Or maybe the Bass Pro.
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Old 10-19-07, 09:03 PM   #3
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i heart canadian tire. i got my hockey skates there. i think the reciept should be a document allowing citizenship. canadian tire & alexander keith's are the 2 reasons i miss dating a canadian.
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Old 10-20-07, 07:25 AM   #4
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We have one MEC store in Montreal but it is in an area that is not easily accessible by bike or bus. The compete here with Atmosphere and Sports Experts which are fairly large chains.

MEC have stated that they are going to build 3 more stores in Montreal and they will be in easily accessible areas.

I like their products and the sales persons are knowledgeable.
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Old 10-20-07, 09:14 AM   #5
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I wouldn't agree...
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Old 11-08-07, 09:52 PM   #6
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I'm from Winnipeg, I like alot of the clothing MEC has to offer. I'd buy elsewhere as well, but there isn't anywhere else that sells eco-friendly clothing at affordable prices. It seams all our other outdoor/sports stores are hunting oriented (I'm against hunting) or overpriced (I don't need extremly high-end gear)
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Old 11-08-07, 09:58 PM   #7
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i heart canadian tire. i got my hockey skates there. i think the reciept should be a document allowing citizenship. canadian tire & alexander keith's are the 2 reasons i miss dating a canadian.
Alexander Keith's is quite possibly the most vile beer ever made.
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Old 11-08-07, 10:46 PM   #8
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MEC has some great products at some great prices. They do seem to have stocking problems ( I too couldn't get fall/winter gear at the Toronto location). And the staff are hit and miss.
Most recent exchange:

"Hi. I'm looking for a cycling jacket I saw online. It's made by Castelli." says the savy shopper.
Blank stare of staffmember followed by "umm, did you check the racks?"
"Do you know anyone who works here?" deadpans the incredibly glib shopper.


(Ok so the last line didn't actually occur but you get the drift)
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Old 11-13-07, 09:59 PM   #9
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Well, it's definitely not Walmart since it is a co-op. If you've shopped there, you are a member, and if you don't like the board, vote them out.
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Old 11-13-07, 10:11 PM   #10
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Alexander Keith's is quite possibly the most vile beer ever made.
you have no soul. or taste buds.
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Old 11-13-07, 11:30 PM   #11
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I've noticed a few 'outdoor'/similar stores in close proximity to MEC here in Vancouver, and in Toronto.

I also got a fair-sized, surprise cheque from MEC last year. I've never received one from Walmart. But maybe that's because I don't/won't shop there.
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Old 11-24-07, 06:10 PM   #12
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Here in Vancouver, I see new outdoor stores opening up on the same strip as MEC. One after another they line up to be on the same block. So if MEC is the big bad boy who puts smaller stores out of business, why are they lining up to sign commercial leases right on the same block?! Many of them have been on this block for several years.

Back to the original post, I understand that:

1) MEC doesn't have the right stock
2) The small stores are going out of business

This begs the question: just what stock IS the being bought by the Manitobans?? If MEC doesn't have it, why aren't the mom n pop's selling the proper kit ? Sounds like an opportunity..
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Old 11-24-07, 06:41 PM   #13
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We at the LBS generally don't like MEC. They have extremely large buying power which is good for the consumer. However for us, a chain tool we buy for $12 cost, they sell for $12 retail. I can't blame the consumer for picking the lower price, but it really hurts the small independent bike shop.

I have a couple of friends that work for MEC, so it's one of those things you avoid talking about at dinner, along with politics and religion.
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Old 11-24-07, 06:59 PM   #14
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you have no soul. or taste buds.
Gotta agree with you here haha...
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Old 11-24-07, 08:13 PM   #15
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We at the LBS generally don't like MEC. They have extremely large buying power which is good for the consumer. However for us, a chain tool we buy for $12 cost, they sell for $12 retail. I can't blame the consumer for picking the lower price, but it really hurts the small independent bike shop.
That's a really good point. And it's something that enters the equation (for me), when I'm looking at bike stuff. I will always try to patronize the LBS. You have to. If you don't, down the road, that convenientally located bike shop may no longer be there. Then what do you do.

I don't know if this thought process enters the mind of most consumers though. I will shop around somewhat. And once I've found I shop that I like, I'll usually buy stuff there no matter what the price differential may be. Tools are sometimes the exception.

In my defence, I used to patronize a shop right across the street from MEC, here in Vancouver. I've spent over $2000 and never bought a bike there. It's been service (that at the time, I couldn't perform myself), parts and miscellaneous stuff. I don't think I've spent quite that much on bike stuff at MEC, although it may be close to that. I will buy most of my bike clothes there. I prefer no blatant advertising.

But there is another variable that comes into play when dealing with a bike shop, in my opinion. And this is more of a determining factor, than price. Although this may be off topic, I'll mention it anyway (considering it was brought up already). And that is attitude.

I'm not going to slam LBS's here. However there are people working in some bike shops, that can display somewhat of a condescending attitude. And I have experience in this type of interaction, because I use to pull wrenches in the automotive field for years. You get people who will shop around for the best deal, and you'll never see them again. Sometimes it's hard to hide your body language. Although it's not an apples to apples comparison - it is very similar.

In the defence of the LBS employees, it can be difficult when dealing with people, whom are just cherry-picking items. They are only after the best deal, that's all. They have no allegiance to that shop. And I'm sure they get more than their share of that type of customer. And maybe they become a little jaded from time to time. And they may have a hard time discerning those customers from others.

In real life, patronizing stores on principal, can be a very hard discipline to adhere to at all times. Sometimes price and quality do come into play.

Back to your point about their pricing and purchasing power - that is something they've earned. I've worked within the Co-operative Retailing System for over eleven years. And as a GM for the last four years, I was very fortunate to be able to hand out general cash (equity) repayments. It's what separates co-ops from other types of stores. And although that was part of my past, it's something that is still a factor, with regards to where I may buy stuff. And it may for others as well.

Sorry, this post has become longer than I intended it to be.

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Last edited by spinninwheels; 11-24-07 at 08:18 PM.
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Old 11-24-07, 09:17 PM   #16
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Here in Vancouver, I see new outdoor stores opening up on the same strip as MEC. One after another they line up to be on the same block. So if MEC is the big bad boy who puts smaller stores out of business, why are they lining up to sign commercial leases right on the same block?! Many of them have been on this block for several years.

Back to the original post, I understand that:

1) MEC doesn't have the right stock
2) The small stores are going out of business

This begs the question: just what stock IS the being bought by the Manitobans?? If MEC doesn't have it, why aren't the mom n pop's selling the proper kit ? Sounds like an opportunity..
When army surplus went out of business earlier this year, they gave MEC as one of the reasons why. (Don't get me started on the going out of business sale...... )

I get a little discouraged when I go into MEC looking for toe coves, and while they do sell them, they don't have stock in the Winnipeg store, nor do their staff know what they are. ( and none of the LBS on my ride home (5) sell them either)

I was also interested in possibly buying the exustar winter shoes they sell. However they don't stock any in Winnipeg, and I'm not too sure of the size. They will not send a couple of sizes to the Winnipeg store for me to determine which I'll buy. I have to buy a pair, hope I have the right size, and if I don't then send them back, hope I get the right size, and if not return them or get another size. Am I off in my thinking that if they sell an item, but don't have them in stock in a certain location, they should bring stock into that location for a customer to purchase?

Am I expecting too much customer service?
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Old 11-24-07, 10:23 PM   #17
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yeah, the one MEC store in montreal is in a gawdawful location. I haven't actually been there in person in a couple of years. However, a friend of mine went there last summer and found the customer service to be really bad; he had trouble finding anyone to ask a question and the ones he did find were useless. But online shopping with them is fine. If you know your size etc it's easy. I hope they open other stores though. I'd like to be able to try stuff on if i have to.
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Old 11-26-07, 10:59 PM   #18
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It's rediculous that MEC doesn't stock winter cycling gear in Winnipeg. We 6 months of winter, for goodness sakes!

I do like the focus MEC has on value-priced gear for commuting and casual riders, who don't want to shell out $100 for shorts, and another $100 for a jersey.

For bicycle parts, I generally shop at Natural cycle, since they have the bicycle know how, they stock decent parts at a good price, and they're worker-owened
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Old 11-27-07, 04:04 AM   #19
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That's a really good point. And it's something that enters the equation (for me), when I'm looking at bike stuff. I will always try to patronize the LBS. You have to. If you don't, down the road, that convenientally located bike shop may no longer be there. Then what do you do.
How about each store specializes at that in which they excel? I will use my LBS for buying bicycles, UBC's Bike Hub for any repairs (the LBS has broken my carbon seatpost and then denied it, having me run all around town, before they finally gave me a new one when I paid for the price difference) and MEC for accesories and any camping gear...
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Old 11-27-07, 04:06 AM   #20
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When army surplus went out of business earlier this year, they gave MEC as one of the reasons why. (Don't get me started on the going out of business sale...... )

I get a little discouraged when I go into MEC looking for toe coves, and while they do sell them, they don't have stock in the Winnipeg store, nor do their staff know what they are. ( and none of the LBS on my ride home (5) sell them either)

I was also interested in possibly buying the exustar winter shoes they sell. However they don't stock any in Winnipeg, and I'm not too sure of the size. They will not send a couple of sizes to the Winnipeg store for me to determine which I'll buy. I have to buy a pair, hope I have the right size, and if I don't then send them back, hope I get the right size, and if not return them or get another size. Am I off in my thinking that if they sell an item, but don't have them in stock in a certain location, they should bring stock into that location for a customer to purchase?

Am I expecting too much customer service?
No, it sounds like your MEC has pretty terrible accesory selection. But do let them know by

a) leaving a comment in the comment box
b) writing a letter to the manager

I think that MEC would be more responsive to these grievances than any other chain store...
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Old 04-01-08, 01:38 PM   #21
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Alexander Keith's is quite possibly the most vile beer ever made.
You shall be sent straight to hell!
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Old 04-01-08, 02:09 PM   #22
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I've only been to MEC a couple times while visiting up in Canada, but it seemed to me that it was much like REI. The stock on hand is seasonally driven and depends on what the national management says they're going to carry, not what specific regional stores want to keep on the shelves.
For instance: REI Redmond moves all their bicycle stuff to the back corner of the store and reduces stock by about 75% when it's time to move the ski and snowboard stuff to the front of the store, even though there's plenty of people here who ride year 'round.
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Old 04-01-08, 03:52 PM   #23
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From what I'm reading MEC enjoys large tax breaks due to the Canadian tax system and co-ops. This allows them to be more profitable then a local bike shop. This was covered in detail in a recent industry news letter.

I don't know if REI enjoys the same thing here but from what the article stated MEC might push out small, tax paying retailers.
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Old 04-01-08, 04:22 PM   #24
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Changes in shipping charges have made it not too feasible for me to order from MEC cross-border. But back when my choices were mailorder from REI or MEC or long drive to EMS, I went w/ MEC.
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Old 04-01-08, 05:03 PM   #25
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I have spent many thousands of dollars at both MEC and my LBS. Because the MEC location is so bad for me I usually wait until I need a bunch of stuff and make only two or three trips to the store each year. I buy hiking gear and clothing and cycling clothes and accessories. My LBS is much handier to get to and I buy bikes, bike parts, bike shoes, racks, pumps and other stuff like that. I also buy bike accessories at MEC. It really boils down to whichever store has the most appropriate item for me. Each store serves a purpose and each has its place.
I've had pretty good service and advice at MEC stores here in Montreal and in Ottawa, but for bicycle advice and information I really prefer the LBS where I can talk to the owner and the mechanics directly.
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