It's no secret that the outdoor industry could be a lot more diverse. According to a survey by the National Park Service taken in conjunction with the 2010 census, only 22 percent of park visitors came from ethnic minorities. More recent data from the Outdoor Industry Association found that only 26.3 percent of those who participated in outdoor activities in 2018 were non-white.
The participation picture is changing, but slowly. One way to speed it up is from the inside. Jahmicah Dawes knows this well. His Stephenville, Texas store, Slim Pickins Outfitters, is the first Black-owned outdoor gear shop in America — and he started it in 2017.
Dawes and his wife, Heather, have worked to make it a fixture in the community and to introduce its residents to fly fishing, cycling and more through events and, of course, the gear he puveys. Brands on offer include mainstays like Patagonia and Osprey and those from Texas, like Kammok and Howler Bros.
Like many brick-and-mortar operations, Slim Pickins Outfitters has been hit hard hard by the side effects of COVID-19. The store's revenue is down by 50 percent, which is why the Outbound Collective has started a GoFundMe to ensure that it recovers that lost income and also has enough to continue to push its goal of diversifying the outdoors. The initiative is more than one-third of way toward its $142,000 goal but can use more support.