After one year in business, KAMP is sadly shuttering its doors on March 31. The boutique outdoor retailer opened in St. Louis, Missouri, on March 7, 2018 with the goal of introducing more people to the outdoors through unique and inclusive community-based experiences. They also raised more than $4,000 in material donations for nonprofit Gateway to the Great Outdoors, and supported numerous community causes.
But owners Jason and Mandi Gray struggled to make ends meet. The store along with their business district in Gravois Park were hit hard with a shopping slow down and the holiday sales were not enough for them to bounce back.
“Opening an outdoor retail business in the city of St. Louis was a gamble, and we knew that from the beginning” Jason Gray said in a news release. “Our goal has always been to work within our community along South Jefferson to introduce outdoor experiences, and to facilitate learning and recreation opportunities for local residents, especially kids. I feel proud to say that we did that largely successfully, along with some truly remarkable partners, but the other side of that coin is that we needed people already interested in the outdoors to be willing to travel to us to shop and be a part of our experience.
He continued, "I feel like we failed to reach that audience in any meaningful way, and so our brick-and-mortar operations have just become unsustainable.”
The Grays plan to remain active in the outdoor industry and they're deciding their next move, whether it's through pop-up shops, leading hikes, teaching outdoor skills, supporting other outdoor efforts, or producing inclusive media content. Jason Gray is a professional photographer and hosted outdoor photography classes at the store.
"Creating outdoor opportunities for groups of people who have traditionally been left off the invite is very important to us as the parents of two minority boys, and we feel that happens best by having outdoor businesses invest in the communities where outdoor opportunities are lacking," Jason Gray told SNEWS. "It's great for businesses to promote a more diverse industry in their programming, advertising, and in terms of the brands they carry, but if everyone's located in areas where only white people shop, it is almost guaranteed that the same cycles will perpetuate."
As bummed as we are to see them close, we know this is not the final goodbye to the Grays and their vision for getting more people of diverse backgrounds outside. They'll be back.