CRAG store: worn better than new – interview with Kuba Zięba
Despite CRAG store a relatively new place on the map of Krakow, it has already managed to make quite a stir in its own backyard. About the store’s activities, actions “Worn better than new” and the general approach to the clothing industry and what we can do to “wear” smartly, with a Kuba Zięba, Zuzanna Kozerska talks.
What is CRAG store?
The basis is the store, although we don’t like to talk about it that way. However, this is inevitable if we want to reach people with the information that they can buy something from us. We are a rather unusual place – in addition to equipment and understanding service, you can also meet cool people here. CRAG store is a spacious “forum”, glassed-in and bright. Guests, as we call visiting customers, can have coffee, and they get a discount for arriving on a bicycle. We are also a dog-friendly place. We don’t want people to come to us just to shop, we prefer them to stop by to talk, and only in passing, buy something.
The CRAG store crew before the store opened (photo. CRAG store)
Can it be said that it is an all-sports store?
The store was intended to be a climbing-outdoor store. Time has shown that it is more outdoor-lifestyle with a climbing and skydiving section. The second floor is the outdoor one, which starts the moment you step beyond the threshold of your apartment – clothing, accessories. Pietro above is a specialized outdoor – footwear, backpacks, outdoor cooking items, ice and classic climbing equipment, bouldering equipment, skydiving equipment.
Our main target group is people who are meeting the outdoors for the first time. Often these are people who haven’t heard of checks or crampons, and don’t know what a membrane is. We are not a store strictly for hardcore shoppers, although we have such equipment too. We have done meetings that target a more advanced group, but above all we want the CRAG store to be inclusive, open to everyone.
And open to change – what is your approach to the apparel industry on environmental issues?
We don’t want to do greenwashing. Everyone, regardless of his or her function in the store, contributes a brick, starting with the selection of brands and ending with the store’s design. The furniture is upcycled or purchased second-hand – we tell anecdotes about what was made of what, live. Our tables come from the liquidation of ZPT in Dolnych Młynów street, the cabinets on which the shoes are displayed are salvaged old Warsaw scaffolding. Some say it’s easier to make something new, but we prefer to give old things new functions and new life. On top of that, we are launching actions with which we want to spread this approach.
The CRAG store encourages people to get out into the outdoors (pic. CRAG store)
One of them is your flagship action – “Wearable better than new”.
That’s right. This is a broader program, where we use all our capabilities to do more than just sell products. We point out that clothing can be treated in a circular way, that it can be repaired and that it should be respected. This also ties in with our motto: “don’t buy if you don’t need it.”. We were inspired by Patagonia, specifically the “don’t buy this jacket” campaign. We want to strike a balance – offer good products, but at the same time convince customers not to buy things they really don’t need. Above all, we advise on how to buy wisely.
We also use Patagonia’s Worn Wear program. It’s a remediation program that only includes Patagonia-branded clothing in Europe. If you have a product with an original Patagonia tag, regardless of where you bought it, you can bring it to us and we will send it to a repair center in Portugal. We don’t ask for details – just fill out a claim form. The repair is free of charge, but you have to wait about a month for the repaired item to return. It’s not only a matter of minimizing shipping costs, but also an environmental issue.
CRAG store crew (photo. Michal Grzywacz / CRAG store)
You can also repair things at your place?
This is another part of the “Wearable better than new” project. We cooperate with a seamstress in Krakow, to whom we send customers back or give her their clothes.
If someone does not want to repair clothes or use them longer, they can give them to us. The campaign includes about twenty outdoor brands that you can come in with and exchange them for gift cards. The client comes and we price these things. We have a price list, but it is rather approximate – it all depends on what brand it is, what model and what condition it is in. We establish all this with the customer and create a contract. We choose those products that can be renewed enough to hang on the hanger a second time – these clothes and accessories are displayed in a separate place in the store, from the second circulation and thus at a more favorable price. Patagonia has a similar program, which unfortunately does not work in Europe, so we said we would do it ourselves. And in this case, repairs will be done locally with the cooperation of Monika Szota, a seamstress Stop Wasting Design.
On top of that, you implement original ideas…
We organize GUEST MEETINGS at the store’s headquarters. Once every month or two we invite guests – mountain people, athletes, guides. In addition, we turned Black Friday into FIXED FRIDAY, which in our edition was anti-sale. Then, in this shopping frenzy, we invited customers for free small clothing repairs in our store – on the spot and on hand. We are also planning a workshop where you will be able to learn how to repair minor defects yourself. We hope that other stores will start doing the same – only then can we bring about real change.
FIXED Friday by Sabina Klosowska (fot. CRAG store)
Why are such activities so poorly promoted when they do so much good?
In many cases, these are sham activities, strictly for image purposes. Until the business transforms, they will always generate costs. And that costliness is holding back their development. We see it for ourselves, but still believe it’s worth it, and that something will change. It seems to me that this is part and parcel of the evolution of the market – ultimately, this approach to the purchase and production of clothing can reduce environmental pollution and resource consumption. If we all accept that a product costs more, but is actually better and, for example, we have a lifetime guarantee to repair it, both consumers and business will benefit.
And what do customers think about it?
They think it’s a cool program, they cheer. The response has been positive, on social media and beyond. More people comment than actually participate, but it’s only a matter of time. Forerunners and role models are needed.
I hope that there will be more and more of them. Thanks to!
CRAG store team (photo. Michal Grzywacz / CRAG store)