Plenty of small businesses have been struggling through the pandemic’s restrictions. Thousands, perhaps millions, of shops and stores are having to shutter because of the lack of foot traffic and retail sales. But a supremely unique store is getting close to shutting down: SlimPickins Outfitters in Stephenville, TX, the first Black-owned outdoor shop in the country. We profiled its owner and operator, Jahmicah Dawes, in an earlier Neighborhood Heroes story in October. And even with the surge in outdoor sales across the industry, Dawes’ small gear shop is in danger of going bankrupt. It’s tough for them to compete with the big chains and massive online retailers that have huge reach and big advertising budgets.
So in support of Dawes and the gear store, Outbound Collective with help from Wondercamp, has launched a 15-minute film called Slim Pickins. The short film highlights the community that Dawes and his wife Heather have helped nurture with their shop, along with locals affected by his drive to infuse the area with diverse, inclusive, and thoughtful energy. The short is part of Outbound Collective’s #EveryoneOutside film series, presented by Hoka One One.
“SlimPickins Outfitters exists to diversify the outdoors, and we do that by being a relevant space for our community, our culture, for the creative outdoor enthusiast,” says Dawes in the film. “What we are trying to do, simply put, is to get more people that look like me out into these outdoor spaces.” His wife adds, “Support us and help us diversify the outdoors.”
Pickin Up the Slack
The Outbound Collective, which strives to get people into the outdoors no matter their skill level, along with Wondercamp (filmmakers dedicated to giving voice to the little-heard) didn’t stop with the film. They also teamed up with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) and outdoor-focused PR firm JAM Collective to launch a GoFundMe campaign. The campaign aims to help give SlimPickins the chance to erase debt and continue its good work in the community and promoting a diverse outdoor experience.
Brian Heifferon, CEO and co-founder of Outbound Collective said, “The town of Stephenville, and the outdoor industry, need Jahmicah and Heather to continue sharing their endless love and passion with all of us. Today, they need our support. We’re asking you to join us in donating what you can and/or sharing this campaign with your friends, family members and co-workers.”
Real Change, Real Diversity
Dawes prophetically commented in our previous interview: “Sometimes I feel like Black businesses in the outdoor industry should be on some kind of endangered list, you know? I feel like we just got here and we are already about to become extinct.”
Dawes is also especially frustrated with big outdoors brands’ push to include people of color in their advertising and social media in the wake of the George Floyd shooting, saying that, “It baffles me how I can look at these brands’ social media feeds and see how they are attempting to profit off of the plight and persecution of a people but then don’t take or [won’t] make the opportunity to better support the small group of Black business owners that are actually in the industry, that actually are changing the narrative. Use real [people of color] in your magazines, print ads, and visual campaigns—the actual people doing and putting in the work. We are here, we exist, but in order to stay, we need help!”
Do What You Can
In addition to the film, Hoka and the Outbound Collective will also host a free, virtual panel discussion about the film on Wednesday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. EST. It will feature Jahmicah and Heather Dawes, owners of SlimPickins Outfitters; Justin Jeffers, film director in collaboration with Wondercamp; and Abdul Kassamali, film producer in collaboration with Wondercamp.
If you don’t have the extra income to donate to the SlimPickins Outfitters GoFundMe, Dawes says to support them by purchasing from them. “We have the capability to order anything from the brands we sell. So readers can make the intentional decision to purchase from us instead of the brand’s websites—or the big box stores—and then take that same mindset and lifestyle change to support local businesses in and around your own community.”