Outdoor adventurers from the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) who are on the hunt for the best outdoor gear can now shop at MEC in Hudson’s Bay.

Three inaugural MEC shop-in-shops are located within The Bay’s flagship store on Queen Street, the Yorkdale Shopping Centre and the Square One Shopping Centre.

MEC x The BayMEC x The Bay

I recently visited the new Square One location. To get to MEC, I passed by designer stores including Guess, Michael Kors, Coach and Harry Rosen, all while dodging routine shoppers clutching their designer bags and sporting trendy clothing.

After navigating the maze of designer stores and determined shoppers, I was blessed with a glimpse of every Canadian adventurer’s holy mecca. MEC’s new location has its own mall entrance, seemingly disassociating itself from The Bay, complete with their own team of MEC employees—though the smell of pungent perfumes and bright fluorescent lights flooding the store’s side entrances reminds me of MEC’s new ties to The Bay.

Square One the Bay and MECMEC x The Bay

The single-floored location hugs the corner of The Bay and occupies a space similar in size to other regular stores in the mall. The MEC store itself is sectioned off from The Bay. Customers cannot purchase Hudson’s Bay products at the MEC counters.

The MEC Hudson’s Bay locations feature the same design and feel of larger MEC storefronts, offering shoppers an immersive experience that allows them to imagine their time spent outdoors. Mannequins are fully outfitted in popular apparel, including North Face jackets and Osprey backpacks, while the walls are plastered in real-life images of inspiring individuals enjoying their gear outside.

manequins campingMEC x The Bay

Depending on which entrance customers enter, they are welcomed by knowledgeable MEC staffers and led past dehydrated meals and cooking essentials, YETI coolers and Hydro Flasks, camping and backpacking equipment, climbing shoes and chalk, and footwear and apparel.

“Prior to opening, we reorganized the store four separate times,” says Emmerson, a Square One MEC staffer. “We wanted to ensure that if someone came into our store and had little-to-no outdoor experience, they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed. We wanted customers to feel a flow within the store, allowing them to comfortably browse and ask questions.”

adventure gear camping hikingMEC x The Bay

Unlike long-time MEC stores that may overwhelm new shoppers, the boutique locations are approachable, both in terms of accessibility to products, as well as having a strong team of MEC staffers who understand the needs of both new and seasoned outdoor adventurers.

“It’s very much a ‘pinkies up’ type of location,” jokes Faisal, a Square One MEC staffer, “And that’s okay! We have customers coming in knowing little about gear and wanting to drop tons of money on a sleek designer-like jacket. Though we may not have the exact brand they are looking for, we are able to point them in a similar direction, both in terms of functionality and style.”

“We are aware that we will get a wide range of customers here,” says Emmerson. “No matter the person, we’re here to educate and properly inform people on their purchases. At the end of the day, if someone goes home with a good piece of gear, I’ve done my job right.”

shopping for outdoor adventure gearMEC x The Bay

Though these boutique locations offer everything an every-day commuter or long-distance hiker would need, they do not sell big ticket items such as paddle boards and skis. “Imagine someone carrying a kayak through Gucci,” laughs Emmerson. “Though we don't carry bigger items, we are more than happy to direct them towards a store that does,” he adds.

With more MEC locations entering into Hudson’s Bay stores next spring, GTA shoppers can look forward to securing high quality gear at more easily accessible locations within their own cities. Canadians in other locations can also shop MEC online via TheBay.com.


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