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Let's show up for Slim Pickins Outfitters

Help us support your new favorite purveyors of positivity.

By: The Outbound Collective + Save to a List

Slim Pickins Outfitters is not the only Black-owned outdoor gear shop in the Country. But it is the first.

Jahmicah Dawes gently reminds us as he adjusts the Slim x Harry's trucker hat he's wearing. He and Heather, his wife and business partner, are connecting via Zoom from their parked car. Between running a brick and mortar shop during a pandemic to raising two young children and serving their community, it's clear their schedule is jam-packed. But despite their full plate, they're making time for us as if we've just strolled up to the counter of their shop in Stephenville, Texas.

We're on this call to talk about how we can support their business during these hard times, yet within minutes, Jahmicah and Heather Dawes are sharing with us that their hopes and dreams for Slim Pickins Outfitters reach far beyond themselves.

Not the only. But the first.

"It wasn't even on my radar at all," Jahmicah says when asked how he felt when he realized he was the first Black-owned independent outfitter. "And that's simply because I've seen other Black people -- not only people of color, but Black people -- in the outdoors."

He recalls the excitement he felt when he arrived at a national tradeshow for independent retailers. "I remember getting really excited about it. I thought if there were other Black business owners in this space, this is where I'm going to find them." He introduced himself to a Black woman who he assumed was an entrepreneur like him, only to find out that she was a product representative for a well-known gear company. After three days of networking at the tradeshow, he began to feel his new suspicions confirmed.

"There's obviously a disparity [in this industry], but being there and seeing it, and realizing there was no one else... this just made me feel deflated. I think I was already feeling alone, but this just made me feel heavy with the weight of it as it set in."

More than a place to shop for goods and gear.

Even before the opening of Slim Pickins, the Dawes' began to feel supported by their community. And it wasn't just because they were building a business. "We're building Community," they say, almost in tandem.

"Jahmicah is a bridge-builder and community-maker. He'll learn about people -- learn their interests -- and then he'll start to care about them," Heather tells us. She adjusts the cell phone on the dashboard to make sure we all can see each other. She checks over her shoulder to make sure her son is content to look out the window from his car seat. "He's a good salesman, but I'm not talking about selling product. He's just creating community and loving on people."

Heather remembers exactly how she felt when folks started noticing Slim Pickins Outfitters, both from the community and media standpoint. Excitement for her children to see their father build this first-ever business. But she felt nervous too. She recalls that when she was 35 weeks pregnant with their youngest son, a truck full of kids drove by the shop and yelled racial slurs as Jahmicah was taking out the trash.

"With this notoriety comes comments and ignorance. And as I've told Jahmicah, I'm excited for all of this, but I just need you to come home safely, and I need you and our children not to feel emotionally targeted or damaged."

Keeping the lights on for a brighter future and more inclusive outdoor space.

Like many small businesses across the country, Slim Pickins Outfitters continues to struggle through this pandemic. And Jahmicah and Heather have invested heart, soul, and everything into this shop.

To keep the shop open would mean so many things. It would mean keeping their employees paid, continuing to grow a vital community space for recreators and outdoorspeople. And to Jahmicah and Heather, it means creating a space where their boys are safe in the outdoors.

Jahmicah smiles at his son, now happily enjoying a snack in Heather's arms. "It's having a space where we see our sons totally welcome and totally embraced and totally at ease in the outdoors," he says. "Where I don't have to worry that they're going to experience acts of aggression or acts of racism when they're in a public outdoor space."

Help us save Slim Pickins Outfitters. Donate to our GoFundMe today.

Watch the full version of our latest EveryoneOutside film, Slim Pickins.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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