By Mario Toneguzzi
Mountain climber Jamie Clarke has never let obstacles and challenges get in the way of reaching a goal.
Twice he has scaled Mount Everest.
Now, the Calgary-based adventurer, author and public speaker, is taking on the challenge of the retail industry, promising to disrupt the outdoor gear and wear sector with the mission to get the world outside.
Clarke says the innovative direct-to-consumer strategy is aimed at revolutionizing the traditional retail model.
“I’ve summited Everest twice, and climbed the Seven Summits where one’s life depends on good gear,” says Clarke. “There can be no compromise on quality and everything we’re making at Live Out There will be more than good enough to use on another Everest climb.
“Our company mission is to get the world outside and the reason being is that people who spend time outside are happier, healthier and more creative. And if we’re really going to live up to our mission then we have to be able to focus on how we can tackle those problems of making high-quality gear less expensive for people.”
Clarke says Live Out There is the only outdoor gear brand in North America that embraces the four key elements of a retail revolution: high-quality product; radical transparency including manufactured cost disclosure; fair pricing from sourcing to consumer; and direct-to-consumer delivery which eliminates middlemen and the elevated cost associated with that.
Clarke and Achilleos opened a bricks and mortar store, Out There Adventure Centre, in 2003 in the heart of downtown Calgary. They then opened the e-commerce business in 2009. The physical store closed operations in June of this year, partly due to the faltering economy in Alberta which suffered through two years of a brutal recession caused by a collapse in oil prices.
“The systemic problem was sort of a global and certainly North American revolution occurring in retail which is exciting and painful,” says Clarke. “It was a realization for us that the distribution channel is broken, antiquated and needs to change."
“And instead of being part of the problem. We wanted to be part of the solution. I think that’s a cautionary tale for many businesses in our digital economy and retail in particular. You better either be part of the solution because if you remain part of the problem you’re going to get wiped out.”
In November, Live Out There launched its own product which is made in two factories in China. The company has offices in Calgary and Montreal. Distribution centres are located just outside of Los Angeles and in Kamloops, B.C.
“Transparency and price disruption have come to other verticals, but the outdoor industry has been stuck in the same wholesale-retail model for half a century and this does not provide a fair price to consumers,” explains Clarke. “Outdoor gear is too expensive because of this, but it doesn’t have to be. Consumers are paying too much.”
Live Out There’s direct-to-consumer model cuts out the middlemen - and the corresponding markup that comes with it - enabling the brand to sell a higher quality product for significantly less than what’s on the market today, adds Clarke.
On the company website, https://liveoutthere.com, there is clear information of how much it costs to make the product, the margin and the retail markup comparing Live Out There prices to those in the traditional retail model.
Mario Toneguzzi, based in Calgary has 37 years of experience as a daily newspaper writer, columnist and editor. He worked for 35 years at the Calgary Herald covering sports, crime, politics, health, city and breaking news, and business. For 12 years as a business writer, his main beats were commercial and residential real estate, retail, small business and general economic news. He nows works on his own as a freelance writer and consultant in communications and media relations/training. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.