Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Andorra.
Interest: hiking, backpacking, scrambling, climbing
MEC increasingly is not selling the brands that I want to buy. Camper's Village isn't the only option, as it seems most things MEC doesn't sell are at all of the non-MEC places (CV, Atmostphere, and Out There), but they are one satisfactory option for that.
I prefer Osprey Packs - MEC doesn't sell them. I bought my last one at CV, and was happy. I also bought a great MHW pack for city use at CV. Also not available at MEC. MEC doesn't carry MHW clothing, which fits me the best.
MEC doesn't carry Sea to Summit, who make many great products I have purchased.
On an identical good that is available at MEC, I'll buy it at MEC. But there's more than enough MEC doesn't sell to comfortably support other stores.
As for staff, I no longer find MEC's to be any more knowledgeable than the other places. There are a couple great MEC staff, but the average salesperson is now just an enthusiastic young salesperson, just like everyone else.
I disagree that they carry better gear. CV used to be strictly bottom-end and luxury car camping, but that's not the case any more (though the luxury car camping no doubt still attracts that crowd as the best place for it). MEC carries quality entry-level stuff, under the MEC brand, one single high-end brand, Patagonia, and a couple selections of mid-level stuff. Camper's Village carries an entirely different selection of brands, mostly falling in between MEC's two ends, with the major lifestyle brands (and not just cotton like 80% of MEC's lifestyle), and some mid-high stuff - Marmot, MHW, etc.
The gear selection is different, and some of it is not as good as the gear at MEC, but some of it is as good and better.