As the retail industry continues to shift towards sustainability – it’s no surprise small business owners are doing the same. In a survey by Nosto – 50% of consumers are more likely to buy from brands that are committed to sustainability. However, the report also states that only 32% of these consumers are willing to pay higher prices. At FERAL – paying more for sustainability isn’t the solution. In a quaint nook on Tennyson – the Denver outdoor gear shop believes sustainability means an affordable and inclusive outdoors. From gear repair to their sell-back program – here’s what sustainability looks like at FERAL.
When speaking with founder – Jimmy Funkhouser – he explained how sustainability isn’t something that’s black and white. “In my opinion, a meaningful sustainability goal looks something like – in our context as a business – one, to be self-aware of how our operations affect our community and environment and two, to make ethical choices that account for those impacts,” he said. For many businesses – making the switch to recycled materials is common but Funkhouser believes that isn’t enough. The bigger picture is more about small, continuous efforts as a whole. According to the business owner, “Every time a business starts using recyclable toilet paper they start calling themselves sustainable. That’s not how this should work.”
Repair and Reuse
In an effort to bring sustainability to the outdoors – FERAL offers several services and programs that both eliminate waste and make outdoor gear more affordable. One of the simplest ways individuals can have an impact is to stop buying new gear altogether. FERAL makes this possible by offering to repair your used outdoor gear. Why buy a new backpack when you can stitch up the one you’ve always loved? Unlike most brands – Funkhouser is ready to steer away from the “new is better” philosophy of the industry. Strongly encouraging you to bring in your worn-out gear to be restored – including tents, sleeping bags and apparel.
For gear that’s dirty or could use a quick shine – the shop also partners with Gear Washers. The eco-friendly restoration company not only washes outdoor gear and apparel – it also revives long-loved down and waterproof items. As a part of their green mission – the company proudly boasts water conservation in addition to eco detergent as part of its methods.
Buy and Sell your used gear
With the Marie Kondo Method in mind – a recent trend involving minimalist living – many are inspired to clean out their closets. A study shows this is great for your mental health – but depending on what you do with your excess goods – it can detrimental to the environment. FERAL encourages outdoor enthusiasts to bring in their used gear as part of their buy-and-sell used gear program. The store accepts anything from camping equipment to cookware and clothing. By opting for a gift card instead of cashback in exchange for your gear – FERAL also offers an additional 50% to your buyback total.
Inclusion Through Sustainability
Circulating gear within the community is not only a sustainable solution – it makes the outdoors more accessible. “People are never going to go on that backpacking trip if they can’t afford it,” Funkhouser states and he’s right. According to a 2018 report by Outdoor Foundation – the second leading reason why people did not participate in outdoor activities is because the equipment is too expensive. Funkhouser also points out that convincing consumers this year’s model is better, “creates incalculable waste and perpetuates the narrative that outdoor activities are only available to the select few.”
In an effort to make the doors more accessible – FERAL’s mission statement is, “Create adventure.” To the up-and-coming brand this means, “trying to create adventure for everyone, whether they can afford to buy a new tent or not.”
Feral is located at 3936 Tennyson Street, Denver. It is open Monday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m
All photography by Amanda Piela.