Mountain Rescue Magazine Winter 2021

A word

Expanding our online shop offering to echo our mountain safety messages...

from the


But those days are long gone and, somewhere along the way, our admirable thriftiness began to work against us, wedded as it was with the ethic of voluntarism, persuading us to undervalue our brand – and be forever fearful of asking more than tuppence for something we might sell in the shop. So Penny and I had a plan... okay, it’s taken a while to take shape what with everything else in the mix but it’s finally getting there. And we think its working. First stage was to get the new website up and running so we had a strong vehicle to host a revitalised shop. That launched last year, with a heavy emphasis on our ‘safety’ messages. Alongside this was an expansion of the bookshop, the easiest way to increase sales and support those messages. We don’t hold a huge stock – usually ordering only one or two of a title to test the market before buying more – but we’ve expanded gradually over the last twelve months, selling titles which cover knots and mountaincraft, navigation, guidebooks, non-fiction books from well-known climbers and celebrities and a selection of children’s

I’ve lost track of the conversations we’ve had in various configurations of the fundraising group, with various fundraising officers, our finance director, Penny Brockman, and Julian Walden (currently ‘de facto’ fundraising officer), about the ‘dire state’ of our online shop. Over the years, we’ve tried, we really have, but never quite got to grips with it, managing instead to fall prey to the tantalising myth that bulk buying is the best way forward (three thousand plastic wristbands anyone? Please. Anyone! We have orange! And green!). And don’t get me started on cheap tat. Sell badges and stickers for a couple of quid each yes (and we do, aplenty) – but let’s not be so rabbit-in-the-headlights petrified of upping our game a bit and selling more expensive, quality merchandise, appropriately priced, in the belief that our supporters will do just that and support us. The ‘beg, steal and borrow’ mindset has been endemic in mountain rescue for too long. It made sense once because it was all we had. That’s how we got ourselves equipped, grew ourselves into the organisation we are now.

to simply be a vehicle for good quality kit and allow those products to speak for themselves. That said, if it’s a branded trinket or gift you’re after, we’ve got plenty of ‘I support mountain rescue’ teddies and soft puppy toys, microfibre cloths, pens and, of course, the model Land Rover, alongside those several thousand plastic supporter wristbands. (Did I mention we have green AND orange?) Again, we’ve started small with all of this, with minimum orders for the branded stuff and very small quantities of stock for the other merchandise. More testing of the market but still at a modest profit for MREW. If things start flying off the shelves then we may think of expanding stock levels, but first we want to see what people want to buy. Our price points have risen too, along with the quality of our stock, and we’re not currently offering any of this new merchandise, or the books, at special ‘team’ rates or discounts to team members. This is about selling to the public, supporting the national body and raising awareness of the need to travel safe and develop navigation skills. On that note, you’ll also spot that the books sell at full cover price. We’re very clear on the website that we’re not attempting to compete with Amazon, or even your high street ‘three for twos’ – and you’ll pay postage too. That extra cost is effectively a donation to mountain rescue and we’re happy to say that people seem happy to support that premise. Thank you if you’ve done this yourself and bought from the bookshop. Our runaway bestseller, by the way, is David Webb’s ‘Fight for Life’ DVD about the Neil Moss incident, over sixty years ago, which changed the course of cave rescue in the Peak District and beyond, and clearly continues to be a huge source of fascination. Another change has been that distribution has moved ‘in house’. I look after the books and Julian and son Cam look after the rest, so we’re better able to keep track of things and respond more promptly if there’s a query. We even offer a gift wrapping service, featuring bespoke MREW paper, red tissue and silky ribbon (oh, how we’ve changed). Leading up to Christmas, Sally Seed and Oliver Robinson set up a series of boosted ads on social media which worked well. We avoided the temptation to sell Christmas cards but our gift cards proved popular. A simple card thanks the recipient for a donation made on their behalf, with current options to give £5, £15 or £25. I’ll be looking at expanding all the ranges in 2021. We’ll continue to link merchandise and books with our safety messages as well as stocking a range of branded goodies, badges and stickers. More importantly, we’ll have some fun doing it. If you haven’t taken a look at the shop yet, please do. And any ideas for stock, please don’t hesitate to get in touch: ✪

LedLenser’s Lite Wallet , new to market and available in our shop. Left: Meet our Fudge Bear supporter teddy.

books (some educational, some just fun to have). The next stage was to set up a number of accounts with key suppliers (and our list is by no means exhaustive yet), then select the sort of items we encourage the hill-going public to carry with them – so compasses, torches, head torches, power banks, waterproof notepads, bivvy bags and medical kits, thermal flasks and water bottles. We’re even right at the cutting edge with a couple of our products from Led Lenser, new to market and state-of-the-art design. Who’d have thought it eh? Mountain rescue, cutting edge? The eagle-eyed might spot that we haven’t branded this stuff with our logo either, preferring



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