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Walmart Outdoor Manager Responds to Backlash

Walmart has launched a Premium Outdoor Store with Moosejaw, an outdoor retailer it purchased in 2017. Several big brands withdrew their sales from Walmart after the purchase.

Small outdoor stores are worried that Walmart will drive down the prices of high-end outdoor gear, which wouldn’t be good for the outdoor industry.

Eoin Comerford, Walmart’s outdoor manager and CEO of Moosejaw, responded today with the below open letter.

Last week, Black Diamond said in a news release that it sent a cease-and-desist letter to Walmart demanding pictures of Black Diamond products be taken off Walmart.com.

“We did not see or approve the statement which Walmart released and have never sold to Walmart,” said Black Diamond’s president John Walbrecht in a press release.

Eoin Comerford’s Open Letter:

In the outdoor industry we like to talk about inclusivity. We recognize the relatively low participation by women and minorities in outdoor activities, so we create slick marketing campaigns and trumpet our moderate successes. And yet the industry remains predominantly male and remarkably white. If we’re going to grow this industry beyond its exclusionary, historical norms, we need to reach new audiences… younger, more female, more diverse.

Moosejaw has always been about inclusion. One of our core mantras is “never take yourself too seriously,” so we welcome beginning backpackers and climbers that are intimidated by other outdoor retailers that greeted them with sighs and eye rolls. It’s part of the reason that Moosejaw’s customers are the youngest of any major outdoor retailer.

At Moosejaw, I have focused on integrity and respect. We treat our brands as partners, working together to build a business based on straightforward and honest communication. Our goal is to do what we say and say what we do.

We developed the Premium Outdoor Store on Walmart with all of these thoughts in mind. Walmart.com’s huge traffic offered the ability to expose outdoor brands, activities and products to a massive audience of new and long-term outdoor enthusiasts, including the very groups that are underrepresented in our industry today. We didn’t want to be just another marketplace focusing on sterile transactions and price shopping. Instead, we built a destination where we could partner with brands to tell their story through their own images, technologies and product families. We built a destination where the brands could list their product to the highest of their standards.

I wasn’t naive enough to think that all outdoor retailers would welcome the Premium Outdoor Store with open arms, but I am surprised by the vehemence of the attacks by some of our industry’s leading retailers and the threats to drop brands that participated.

At the end of the day, the question becomes, “what industry do we want to be?” A small, exclusionary, slow-growing industry dominated by one or two large retailers that dictate everything from distribution and promotional calendars, or a large, inclusive, fast-growing industry embraced by a growing customer base and populated by many innovative and inspiring outdoor brands.

For our part, Moosejaw will continue to push for growth and inclusion.