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post #67 of (permalink) Old 03-28-2013, 12:49 PM
Summit Master
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Vancouver, , .
Posts: 2,674

quote:Originally posted by Trail Talk

The simple fact is that MEC is in the later stages of bureaucratic pathology :-( Administrative wants have overcome customer needs and the internal culture is seeking to perpetuate itself at the expense of co-operative goals.

This sadly predictable "aging" process (not unique to MEC by any means) is made ironic with the fake nostalgia celebrated in advertisements while the direction is clearly 180 degrees away from founding principles. Don't believe that co-op status inoculates management from self-interest!

So who benefits from unfettered growth and mass-market appeal? Why, administration who can now justify CEO-like perks and benefits. Whens MEC becomes "just" another store, their market will decline and they will fail.

Anyone out there planning on starting a brash new NOT-FOR-PROFIT outward-bound equipment store with low overhead, quality merchandise and reasonable prices?
To elaborate on your excellent points:

My perception was that the management always chafes under the cooperative framework, seeing so much money changing hands and believing they deserve a much larger cut of it and feeling they could get that larger cut if it wasn't a coop. And all that money wasted on membership matters like elections! This attitude is on view more in the relentless pressure from management for expansion, because of course the bigger the organization the more opportunities for them and the higher the pay.

Probably, but not necessarily, there is some correlation between people so oriented and successful business skills. So, what you need is a member-oriented and cooperative-focused board that steadfastly limits management influence over the board and the organization. The board is supposed to represent the interests of the member/owners. This is why you want a board that provides vision and guidance, and not so much hands-on business expertise.

As to starting another coop, my guess is that MEC, in the words of Kevin O'Leary, would squash you like a cockroach. You would also be up against something MEC didn't face, which is the Internet. The Internet is my personal outdoor gear "coop" and swap meet.

If you divide MEC's sales by the # of members, you get the average purchases per member per year. Simple. It's something like $85. Perhaps a pair of pants. New members buy lots more than longer-term members, so that's part of the reason for endless expansion geographically and of the product lines. How much each of us spends each yper on relevant outdoor gear, compared to that $85, shows MEC's market share among its members. Unimpressive, I'd say.
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