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A line-up of people waited outside the new MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op) store in Kelowna Saturday morning, a clear indication Okanagan residents were eager to have MEC as part of their community.
Around 300 people spent hours in line, some waiting overnight, just to be the first to see inside the first ever MEC store in the Okanagan.
Located in the Orchard Plaza Shopping Centre, the 20,000-square-foot outdoor retailer had residents of all ages, genders and ability levels pouring into the store for opening day, eager to go through products from over 900 different brands.
The wide range of activities offered in the Okanagan was reflected in the store. From camping, to climbing, to biking to paddling, MEC Kelowna offered something for everyone, whatever a customer’s sport or ability level may be.
“We really want to introduce people into the outdoors and help them get out there,” said store manager, Karen Fitzgibbons.
“Whatever you need to get out there, we’ve got it.”
With it being the first MEC store to come to the Okanagan Valley, Fitzgibbons said it was important to reflect Okanagan culture and lifestyle. The store carries a wide assortment of gear for paddle sports, as well as contains a bike stop that will offer tuning service and custom bike fitting.
Fitzgibbons and her staff of around 33 said it is important that every person who walks through the doors feels supported, whether they are an avid backcountry user or trying something for the first time.
Beyond just gear, MEC Kelowna hopes to be a community hub for ‘how to’ workshops. From bike tuning lessons, to backcountry crash courses, the store is passionate about connecting with members through clinics and events so every person feels comfortable with their activity.
While the grand opening might have just taken place, MEC has been a part of the Okanagan long before doors to the new store opened.
“MEC has been investing in projects to help strengthen outdoor recreation infrastructure and organizations in the Okanagan for years,” said MEC CEO David Labistour.
“Since 2005, MEC has invested more than $560,000 in numerous community-based projects in the Okanagan.”
The grand-opening event embraced that sense of community by inviting Kelowna’s Elevation Outdoors and CRIS Adventures to take part in a ‘bike battle.’ Kilometers logged on the bikes will translate to dollars raised for the organizations.
MEC is one of Canada’s leading outdoor retailers, with 18 stores open across Canada.
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