Mission: We exist to make it easy for people to love the outdoors and spend more time outside.
EMS is the trusted source for must-have gear, apparel and guidance for people who love the outdoors.
EMS is known throughout the Mid Atlantic and Northeast as a purveyor of camping, hiking, climbing, kayaking/SUPing, biking, and other various outdoor traveling goods. Each store is a close-knit community and the store management is one for which you want to work. I would follow my current manager, who has been managing our store for over 10 years, anywhere. You learn from each other and develop great networks and relationships.
In 2012, EMS was purchased by Vestis Retail Group (also the owner of Bob's Stores and in 2014, the owner of west-coast based Sports Chalet, now defunct) as EMS was struggling to stay afloat and was rumored to be weeks away from insolvency. Had Vestis and its capital management parent company, Versa Capital, stuck with only Bob's and EMS, the company would be in a greatly different situation; unfortunately, someone or a group in either Vestis or Versa corporate decided to buy Sports Chalet for $17M and over $50 in debt. Needless to say, come the summer of 2016, Vestis filed for Chapter 11 reorganization and shuttered Sports Chalet, 7 EMS locations and 1 Bob's location. The company has since come out of reorganization proceedings and goods and receipts have begun to flow back into stores, albeit without some notable brands (La Sportiva and Sea to Summit to name two major ones).
The biggest issue with the current iteration of EMS is that it appears to become a discount retail chain with little store culture and vibe. Eastern Mountain Sports used to run community clinics and events, sponsor athletes and other groups, and do other excellent promotions. Those days are gone as are those budget lines. Now when you walk into the stores, nearly everything is on sale (even recent receipts). Vestis (now Eastern Outfitters after the bankruptcy) employees receive 35% off national brands and clearance items and 50% off EMS brands, and are unable to use coupons or discounts (which is typical in retail), even if purchasing items without their discount (less typical). That beg said customers may often find better deals than employees get with their discounts.
In late 2015, Vestis launched a new POS system which was supposed to bring order processing up to current technology. But the systems are clunky and are not user friendly. IT is slow to react to most issues (as they are flooded with problems) and all transactions must now be done in person (no more reserving rentals over the phone or placing orders from another store with a credit card over the phone, supposedly due to new PCI compliance, but if this was true, why can LL Bean still do mail order over the phone?).
The company has lost its vision for EMS and has become the red headed step child clone of Bob's Stores.
Advice to Management
Retool what EMS looks like to consumers and ween them off of heavily discounted items. When you walk into an REI, things are rarely on sale, and customers have come to expect that. As REI begins to move further into the Northeast (with a planned store to come in Manchester, NH), EMS will struggle to compete with a better stocked store with more options. You've lost focus with what EMS should be; fix it before it really is too late! Take the opinions and thoughts from your employees in the stores and on the front lines and less from what your corporate office says.
I applied in-person. The process took 2 days. I interviewed at Eastern Mountain Sports in February 2016.
I walked in on Friday with a completed paper application and came back for the interview the following day. The store was very understaffed, so the manager was effectively trying to run the store while interviewing me. As a result, the whole interview took place on the sales floor, which made it somewhat more relaxed and easier for me. This is not the norm though.
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