Creating a More Inclusive Outfitter
Echo Adventures was established in 2016, operating through a remote office format that aligned with their environmental mission; however, in 2019 the members decided to transform a 1920 livery stables turned art studio in downtown Groveland, CA into their Yosemite Basecamp complete with accommodations, wellness studio and outfitter. They had a successful soft opening of their Adventure Loft accommodation and the yoga studio that winter, but their official grand opening was set for March 20th, 2020.
"That week is a complete blur"recalls founding member Elisabeth Barton, "On Monday the 16th we were running around trying to build a sales counter, merchandise boxes of fly fishing gear and plan a block party, but by Friday the 20th the 6 of us were sitting outside a locked building googling global pandemic"
Against all odds, a year and half later, the Co-Op is thriving. According to founding member Bryant Burnette "Half of our members resigned, we lost our wellness program and we had to pause Yosemite Souvenirs, but Echo made it through and now we are back to square one trying to create a more inclusive outfitter." When asked what an inclusive outfitter means to him, Bryant said, "I guess that any little kid can come into our store and see themselves represented. They know Yosemite is for them. They know their experience and their needs matter."
The Co-Op has taken to their social media account, asking, "What is that one item that you never see in an outdoor store or advice that you never see on outdoor forums that can make or break your wilderness experience?" Elisabeth opens up on tiktok, "I'm a white, cis female without disabilities" she says, "so for me, hands down, out of all the things we sell, is our period products. We have honestly never sold one box of tampons or one diva cup, but we keep them front and center, because they reinforces to anyone that walks in, whether its an older man or a young girl, that ovaries matter and women's wilderness experiences are important"
Walking through the store you're instantly struck by the near equal number of men's and women's clothing and fly fishing equipment, but their Echo Adventures brand t-shirts take it a step further by replacing "women's" and "men's" with "fitted" and "relaxed". They boast vegetarian and kosher backpacking food, as well as a whole section for children and pets. Elisabeth also pointed out that the vast majority of their brands are socially and/or environmentally responsible. "We are very proud of what we have created so far, but this is deeply systemic issue and we know that we cannot ever give up on equal access to outdoor spaces."
Do you have recommendations!? The members of Echo Adventures encourage you to comment here, give them a call at 209.732.5161 or message at email@example.com. "The more specific the better" Elisabeth states emphatically, "we are very new to retail so we need all the help we can get!"