B Corp The Change: Chopwood Mercantile

The outdoor industry is one odd business. Yes, it’s awesome: The suits and ties are Gore-tex and the working hours include dawn patrols on powder days. But the best retailers do more than sell stuff, they also need to encourage more people to get outside and protect the public lands and wild places that feed customers’ dreams. That need to speak up and do something as well as make money is why husband and wife team Travis Underwood and Lisa Cramton made their shop one of the only B Corps in the world of outdoor retail.

B Corp (bcorporation.net) is a legal certification that requires a business to do social and environmental good as well as make profits. Manufacturers such as Patagonia and Cotopaxi have made waves as B Corps and Taos Ski Valley just became the first B Corp ski resort this spring. B Corps dedicate resources to causes that regular corporations use as tax write-offs.

“After working on all sides of the industry, and owning another shop, we had the vision to re-think outdoor retail,” says Underwood who used to own Crested Butte’s legendary store The Alpineer. Chopwood is a small space at 900 square feet, with only one other full time employee. The couple only works with like-minded brands such as Patagonia, Icebreaker and Nau, and commits to conscious business, conservation and local goods.

The local focus is key to the shop’s philosophy. Originally, the couple was looking to open a store in Phoenix or Denver, but what better place to embark on a new concept than the funky streets of The Butte? “We had an idea and wanted to see if the concept would work in a town we knew and had a relationship with, even though Crested Butte wasn’t a part of our original plan,” says Cranton.

And what good is the person selling you that gear if they don’t use it, too? “We explore, travel and look for ideas to loop into our growing brand,” says Underwood. “We also have off-site retreats. We are heading to Baja to have a planning retreat that is lead by Chris Mathias of Puente Institute.”


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