Mountain Equipment Co-op turns 40 - SNEWS

Mountain Equipment Co-op turns 40

MEC grows from 6 to 3.5 million members; embodies ‘active outdoor lifestyles’

Vancouver, BC – Forty years ago today Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) officially opened for business, when it incorporated in British Columbia as a retail co-operative. Membership in MEC was open to anyone and you could join by buying a $5 share in the enterprise. Mountains, climbing and gear for it were at the heart of the deal.

The business began with six founding members who were active in BC's early outdoor scene, a tiny store in downtown Vancouver and gear focused on climbing. Since then, MEC has grown to more than 3.5 million members, fourteen destination stores in six provinces,, some 1,500 employees and a product offering that continues to grow and evolve in step with active outdoor lifestyles in Canada.

“MEC was founded by a small group of climbers who possessed an entrepreneurial spirit, a keen sense of adventure and a deep love for the outdoors,” said CEO David Labistour. “These qualities live on at MEC today, helping guide our service to members, the quality and value-laden products we aim to provide and our desire to serve today and tomorrow's generation of active Canadians.”

Providing members clothing and gear for backcountry excursions to wilderness destinations shaped MEC's early product offering. Demographic changes within Canada and the trend toward ‘front-country' recreation (close to home for short time periods) has led to the evolution of what is now MEC's expansive outdoor product offering.

Like mountain biking and white-water kayaking before them, trail running and stand-up paddle boarding are two relatively new activities rising in popularity that MEC supports as outdoor recreation evolves.

Stores in Vancouver and Calgary and a relatively small membership mainly within Canada's two western-most provinces largely defined MEC's growth in its 15 years in business. That changed in 1986, when the outdoor retailer opened a store in Toronto. Now Ontario has four MEC stores and over half of the co-op's total membership resides east of the Manitoba-Ontario border.

Supporting Canada's outdoor community and well established sustainability programs are integral to MEC organizational culture. Since 1987, MEC has contributed over $19 million in community grants toward outdoor recreation and environmental conservation projects across the country. MEC's sustainability efforts include formal programs in the areas of product sustainability, green building and ethical sourcing.

The cost to join MEC remains unchanged – a $5 share provides an individual lifetime membership. Membership is open to anyone.

About MEC

Currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, Mountain Equipment Co-op is Canada's leading retailer of outdoor clothing, gear and services for self-propelled activities like cycling, hiking, camping, climbing, trail running, snowsports and canoe and kayaking, among others. Today MEC has more than 3.5 million members throughout Canada. MEC serves its members through 14 destination stores in 6 provinces as well as Widely recognized for its commitment to community and sustainability, MEC is a member of 1% For The Planet and supports various outdoor recreation and environmental initiatives through its community grants program. Anyone can join MEC and become part-owner in the Co-op, by purchasing a $5 lifetime individual membership. More information about MEC is available at


For more information:

Deborah Robinson
Public Relations Coordinator
604.707.3355 (direct)


Industry stalwart John Irvine returns to Mountain Equipment Co-op

Vancouver – Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is pleased to announce that John Irvine has returned to the iconic Canadian outdoor retailer to oversee its public relations and sports marketing activities. A stalwart of the outdoor industry, Irvine is returning to MEC after having more

Mountain Equipment Co-op publishes Accountability Report

Vancouver – Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) has published its Accountability Report, providing a comprehensive view of the popular outdoor retailer's practices and performance across its business, from how products are designed and manufactured, to store operations and community more

Mountain Equipment Co-op discloses contract factories

Vancouver – Mountain Equipment Co-op™, Canada's largest retail co-operative with over 2.9 million members, today disclosed the names of factories that make clothing and gear under the outdoor retailer's MEC-brand label. With the move, MEC becomes the first Canadian company to more

Mountain Equipment Co-op rebrands to inspire and motivate more Canadians to get outside

National search for outdoor enthusiasts who embody key motivations begins Vancouver, BC – Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) today unveiled its first wholly redesigned logo since being founded in 1971. Known by most Canadians simply as MEC, the outdoor retailer’s new branding more

Co-op announces funding to get Canadians active, protect environment

Vancouver - Access to outdoor activity and support for environmental conservation in Canada took another step forward recently as Mountain Equipment Co-opâ„¢ (MEC) announced the latest results of its community grants program. In all, the member-owned retailer invested more than more

New Social Compliance Manager Joins Mountain Equipment Co-op

Vancouver – Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) is pleased to announce that Amy Roberts has joined the outdoor retailer as its new Social Compliance Manager. Roberts comes to MEC from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), a U.S. trade organization, where she was instrumental in more

Co-operative Retailer Continues its Support for Outdoor Recreation

Vancouver – Mountain Equipment Co-op™ (MEC) today announced its continued support for outdoor recreation and environmental conservation in Canada through its community grants program. In total, the member-owned outdoor retailer invested more than $585,000 for 48 more

A mountain emerges in Burlington, Ontario

Residents of Southwestern Ontario woke up today to a new mountain – in Burlington. Mountain Equipment Co-op™ (MEC), Canada's largest co-operative and leading outdoor retailer, opened its twelfth store there, south of Queen Elizabeth Way on a 1.8-acre site at the intersection more


Mountain Equipment Co-op CEO David Labistour on the bumpy path to becoming more inclusive outdoors

The road to inclusivity is an abstract one. While the outdoor industry has metrics to measure waterproofness, durability or even how “green” a product is, there’s no score that endorses a company’s inclusive-ness (at least that we know of). It’s a tricky play that can, and more