With the economy stuck on its crux move, savvy gear shoppers have been faced with the scary possibility that the only way to afford new gear this season is to scour the aisles of sticky-floored discount stores and drop-shipping closeout sites in the off chance that they'll discover some affordable piece of out-of-season gear that isn't a mauve colored size XXXL. But starting today, the era of settling for shoddy gear in questionable colors and tent sizes has passed. Today, the Department of Goods, a new online gear megastore, opens its e-doors -- to the lucky few, that is.
The Department of Goods (www.DepartmentofGoods.com), another new store from the team at Backcountry.com, sells the latest and finest outdoor, surf, skate, bike, and mountain equipment from more than 400 pinnacle brands like The North Face, Marmot, Oakley, Volcom, Burton, Rocky Mountain, and Giro.
The selection; the deep, in-stock inventory; the ability to find what you're looking for fast; community reviews and Q+A; and the bend-over-backwards customer service you've come to expect from Backcountry.com, mean, simply, that you've stumbled upon the promised land of premium gear.
But there's a catch. Not everyone can get in. Not yet, at least. The grand opening/beta launch is VIP only. To get past the velvet rope for the first shot at the goods inside the Department, you need to get yourself an invitation -- or use your wily resourcefulness to track down a key code.
The lucky ones will receive an email invitation. Others will get in because they "know people." But if you just show up at the door without an invite, the Department's doorman will shut you down. You can politely ask for a code, but you'll, politely, have to wait.
Once you're in, you're in. You'll have immediate access to insane deals on amazing gear. And it's worth your while to shop, because during the beta roll out, the Department of Goods will be giving away $200,000 in gear. A set number of first comers who place orders over $50 will be matched with a surprise prize from a bona fide grab bag of swag, with gifts ranging from socks, t-shirts, and multi-tools to kayaks, skis, and bikes.
On top of that goodness, one in 10 purchases will be comped at random for a limited time. Fully comped. So if you're not beside-yourself-ecstatic because you've just paid pennies on the dollar for your dream cart, you're completely blown away because you just scored that gear for free.
To keep up on the deals, to try to score a code fast, or for the inside scoop on what the in-crowd is taking away for free, check out the Department of Goods' Facebook page.
Yes, this is Backcountry's fifth store launch in 2009, in the midst of this Eeyore economy, and even the hard-working people within our walls that make these things happen wonder what the hell we're thinking. Especially since Department of Goods is a replacement for the long-lived (but let's face it, not very inspired) BackcountryOutlet.com.
But the Department of Goods is different. It's the only place to find the breadth and depth in selection of high-end outdoor, bike and action sports gear (BackountryOutlet.com is seriously lacking in bike and action sports), leaving its predecessor lame and whimpering in the dust.
As for the fate of BackcountryOutlet.com? After we work out the kinks during the beta test and launch Department of Goods wide open to the public in early 2010, Backcountry Outlet will be taken out back and, unceremoniously, shot.
DepartmentofGoods.com: you'll never have to choose between gear and groceries again.