Changing seasons and South Kingstown’s proximity to ocean, mountains and flatlands leaves residents with a host of outdoor activities in which to indulge, and one Wakefield man is making it even easier to connect with the great outdoors through his website that links shoppers with the lowest prices for gear and tickets around.
Outdoor industry sales generate $300 billion annually and David Brown, 28, of Wakefield, hopes to harness some of those dollars locally to aid Rhode Island retailers and outdoors-based charities.
The website, Mountail-Op.com, went live in November and though he already provides shoppers more than a million products from cycling gear to snow sports to climbing equipment to backpacking merchandise, Brown has big plans to make his site a partner for local business and a proponent of outdoors-based charities.
“The largest driving factors to building Mountain-Op were that I love to help people, I love the outdoors and I love programming,” said Brown, who lives in Wakefield with his wife and 18-month-old daughter, Zaia. “I just tried to combine all three of those. For years I have tried to build websites that combine those three qualities.”
Brown, who moved to Wakefield with his family seven months ago by way of Colorado, hopes this project will be the one to make it. The site catalogues millions of products from a multitude of retailers across the country and tells shoppers where to find the best deals – all at no extra charged to the consumer. Brown gets paid when shoppers click through his site to buy merchandise.
“The easiest thing is to utilize the search filters when you can since there is so much data from so many different retailers,” said Brown as he explained how shoppers can use his site to find the best deals on quality gear.
On the site, which Brown describes as an outdoor gear search engine, shoppers pick their sport and can narrow down products by savings, size, state, and brand. Brown is still missing one thing on his work-in-progress website – Rhode Island retailers.
Right now Brown harnesses retailers on the site through hubs that stores pay to belong to and allows third-party sites like Brown to market their wares to other audiences.
“The thing about a lot of the brick-and-mortar stores is that they typically don’t take advantage of online affiliate marketing,” said Brown, who uses the hub Avantlink.com to connect shoppers to products on thousands of sites. “It lets affiliates like myself host products on my site and do the marketing for them and direct sales back to their store.”
Brown welcomed any Rhode Island retailers to contact his through his website if they want to plug their products into his online market.
Besides access to the best products, Brown’s Mountain-Op.com donates 25 percent of his profits to local, outdoors and adventure-based charities. Right now that charity is Endless Abilities. Brown is helping the group of disabled athletes from Newport fund a cross-country adventure aimed to empower physically disabled people nationally and show them that they can surf, paddle, run, sail, and compete just as hard as the next athlete.
Although Brown admitted he’s not making too much extra yet, he hoped his plans to grow the site would lead to bigger profits and more donations to charities like Endless Abilities.
Right now the site features four categories of outdoor sports – snow, biking, climbing, and backpacking. Brown wants to add paddling and surf-based sports to that as well as a sharing feature.
Taking the premise from CouchSurfing.com, Brown wants to create a forum for travelling, novice, and expert adventurers to share gear across the country. CouchSurfing.com is a community of travelers with an open-door policy who meet online and either host or stay at each other’s homes for free. Brown’s concept of gear sharing would be similar.
“The CouchSurfing community has been key player,” said Brown. “When I lived in Colorado I was really active in that, and it probably had been one of the happiest times in my life — to be able to always help people in need, so that’s definitely a driving factor.”
Brown and his wife, Kayla Buchanan, a South Kingstown native, met via couch surfing accommodations.
Brown said he hopes one day his site could serve as a place for outdoor enthusiasts to meet, share and connect similarly to how CouchSurfing.com connects travelers.