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Cotopaxi Puts Focus on Community Outreach

Outdoor gear and apparel label Cotopaxi revealed it’s expanding its physical retail footprint with two new stores focused on community impact.

This month, the brand opened a location in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley neighborhood, and publicized plans to open a store in Denver in December. The openings will add to Cotopaxi’s existing physical retail roster, which includes five stores in Iowa, Washington and Utah—the company’s home base.

The two new locations will embody the certified B Corp’s Gear for Good social impact mission by connecting shoppers with local charitable organizations. Each store will feature a Community Grantee area where shoppers can learn about the efforts impacting their communities, and the locations have independently committed $5,000 to local impact-driven organizations. The San Francisco store will donate to the Bay Area’s Tipping Point Community, which aims to combat poverty, and the Denver location will support the International Rescue Committee (IRC), which helps recently arrived refugee women connect with their new Colorado community.

“We’re looking forward to deepening connections to the community in 2022,” Jeffrey Steadman, community engagement director at Cotopaxi, told Sourcing Journal. “We’re adding Community Managers in many of the locations where we currently have retail stores, as well as new stores as they open,” he added, noting that each of these individuals will be tasked with rallying consumer support for the brand’s mission.

Cotopaxi is also eager to begin awarding community grants to “outstanding local organizations” in the coming year. “With the help of our employees, wholesale partners, and community members who live and work in these cities, we’ll identify remarkable causes and award grants to deserving groups,” he said, adding that the company ultimately aims to engage with a wide variety of non-profits for long-term partnerships.

The company’s Denver store offers “a good glimpse into the kind of involvement” Cotopaxi is looking to foster through physical retail, Steadman said. In partnership with IRC ahead of the store’s official opening, Cotopaxi invited 18 refugee women to pick out clothing and gear that would help them connect with Colorado’s outdoorsy culture.

Charlie Clark, a member of the brand’s impact team, noted that Cotopaxi has previously partnered with IRC in Utah and South America with favorable results. “We saw this as an excellent opportunity to begin supporting the Colorado IRC community, especially on the heels of the Afghan refugee crisis,” he said. “Not only is the program we supported assisting women refugees in getting settled, it’s focusing on the outdoors and connecting through a sense of adventure, perfectly marrying two of our core principles.”

The store’s next event will be a “Brew Down Yoga” activation, staged in partnership with local partners New Belgium Brewing and Jubilee Roasting Co. “From volunteer opportunities to organizing hikes, our goal is to create events that will connect with locals from all walks of life, and help inspire and empower people to go out and adventure, and to do good,” Steadman added.

The Denver and San Francisco stores will come to represent a model for new stores going forward, Clark said, in that lifting up local communities will be an integral part of their goal. Cotopaxi will allocate a portion of its overall grantmaking budget to community teams to fund these ventures.

“Our goal is always to use our influence to improve the human condition, and this holds true for all of our new retail locations,” he added.

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