Walmart acquires Moosejaw

Wal-Mart acquires Moosejaw for $51 million
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Retail giant Walmart has purchased Moosejaw Mountaineering for $51 million.

Moosejaw

Inside a Moosejaw store. // Photo: Courtesy

Walmart announced Wednesday that it has acquired Moosejaw for $51 million, and that it will continue to operate as a standalone brand.

The Michigan-based retailer has a robust online shopping experience with quirky marketing strategies, as well as 10 brick-and-mortar shops around the United States. The storefronts will remain open and all of Moosejaw’s corporate employees will continue to work at its headquarters in Michigan.

The acquisition is a huge opportunity for Moosejaw to accelerate its growth, CEO Eoin Comerford said Wednesday afternoon.

"It’s extremely important for us that we maintain our culture and our brand style," Comerford said. "That’s a key reason they’re acquiring Moosejaw, because of that unique voice and unique culture."

Walmart acquired Jet.com, an Amazon competitor, in September, and recently started offering free two-day shipping to customers without requiring an Amazon Prime-like subscription. Lower shipping costs and credit card fees alone, which Walmart can now pass on to Moosejaw, will allow for a significant amount of savings that Moosejaw can reinvest in marketing, staff, and inventory.

Toad&Co, which is one of Moosejaw's vendors, said it doesn't know yet how, if at all, its relationship with Moosejaw could change because of the acquisition. But Walmart brings with it a huge amount of resources, knowledge, and sophistication, said Scott Whipps, global VP of sales for Toad&Co. He offered an optimistic perspective on the deal: if Walmart supports Moosejaw's growth, and its roots as a specialty retailer, the acquisition could spell good news for the outdoor industry as a whole.

Walmart is a household name, as the corporation has a store in or near almost every community, which means that its brand awareness and recognition is huge. If it makes a priority of sharing the priorities of the outdoor industry to its diverse and massive audience, it undoubtedly could make an impact.

Walmart could ultimately aid in amplifying the importance of getting outside, conserving the outdoors, and giving back to one's community through stewardship, Whipps said.

"What's so exciting about Walmart's investment in Moosejaw is that it will allow us to take the outdoor active message to a much, much wider audience," Comerford wrote in an email Wednesday night. "Whether that be through Moosejaw, Jet.com, Walmart.com or Shoebuy.com... especially since we will be overseeing the outdoor vertical across all of those properties."

It's still extremely early in this process, and like Moosejaw's customers, Toad&Co found out about the acquisition through a press release and has had no dialogue with the company about the long-term plan.

"At this point, we’re still looking at Moosejaw, unless something changes dramatically, as the same high-quality, service-oriented retailer that they always have been," Whipps said.

Selling Toad&Co apparel in Walmart stores is not on the brand's radar. It remains committed to specialty retail, Whipps said, as well the standard by which it approaches all aspects of commerce: Doing good is good business. If Walmart and Moosejaw take that same approach moving forward, he added, well, "all boats could rise with a positive tide."

There has been no shortage of opinions shared on Moosejaw's Facebook page from customers who don't like the Walmart brand and have expressed concern that their favorite place to buy outdoor gear will be lost in a transition to Walmart values. But Comerford emphasized that Moosejaw will continue to be the quirky company that it is, that customers won't notice any changes, and there won't be a "transition." Rather, the focus of the deal is on Moosejaw, Walmart, and its other brands, like Jet.com, working together to accelerate each other's growth. If anything, Comerford said, Moosejaw might have to hire more people. So those non-traditional advertisements customers love so much are not only here to stay, they might multiply.

"The quirky outdoor lovers that make the Madness happen are going to stay the same... we'll just get to add more friends as we grow, and we'll get blue vests with 40g of insulation (JK)," reads part of an email Moosejaw is sending to customers who write to them with feedback about the acquisition. "The carpet may have to change... but that's a different story."

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