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Mountain Equipment Co-op's Toronto store is moving to a new location at 300 Queen Street West.

Mauricio Jose Calero/MEC

After 34 years in Toronto, and more than 20 on King Street West, Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) will now be outfitting the city’s outdoorsy types from a new home on Queen Street West. Beyond an additional 25 per cent more retail space, the new store is upping the shopping experience with some bold new features and community events. Founded in 1971 by a group of West Coasters, MEC started out as a way to make climbing gear available in Canada. Today, it has more than 20 stores and 5 million members, 490,000 of which live in the Toronto area, and stocks equipment to handle all types of outdoor activities. “One of the top activity vectors for us in the GTA is the running-fitness realm, as well as urban biking,” says George Bevan, director of store development at MEC, highlighting that the new location has double the capacity for bicycle repairs.

To further engage its already strong community, the store includes features such as a projector for movie screenings (MEC has its own documentary series) and hosts activities to inform shoppers about places for camping, hiking and other outdoor activities. “We’re trying to bring a lot of the stuff that we’re doing outside of the store into the store experience,” Bevan says. On the second level, augmented reality technology allows members to visualize themselves inside different tents and climbing equipment can be tested on a 1,000-square-foot bouldering wall with a clear view south to the Rogers Centre. The Basecamp area is an open-concept community space dedicated to hosting free clinics, such as guidance for new campers on what to pack. According to Bevan, “It’s very reassuring to have someone tell you, ‘This is your list of stuff that you need.’”

Mountain Equipment Co-op, 300 Queen St. W., Toronto, 416-340-2667, mec.ca.

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