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Introduction

We believe small business and Main Street America have a lot of life left in them. So every year we like to unironically share what we call our “Shareholder” Report. As a small business, we obviously don’t have shareholders or a board of directors. But we do have you. And we think you’re a hell of a lot more important than some anonymous shareholder or a corporate board of directors. So every year we like to check in and let you know what we have going on around here. 

There is always the risk that sharing this type of information can come off heavy handed or boastful or just land the wrong way. Please know that’s not our intent. We share and celebrate these things humbly with you for three specific reasons.

  • It’s our way of keeping ourselves accountable to you by doing what we said we were going to do when we started our business.
  • It’s our way of illustrating the potential for how powerful shopping small can still be.
  • And it’s our way of honoring the investment you make in our family, staff, and community every time you spend your hard earned dollars with us.

Giving

Because of your support we were able to give back locally in our community in some pretty meaningful ways this year. In fact, it was our biggest year yet. Through initiatives like 1% for Rabun County, our Onward With Pride shirt, the Wander With Diversity Grant, and various other efforts, we donated and raised over $49,000 that went directly to local and regional non-profits doing the good work of serving our communities. This brings our 4 year total to over $125,000. There is no way this happens without your enthusiasm, loyalty and support of our small business. You are every bit the reason we get the great privilege of doing this every year. 

$ 0
Donated to local non-profits and civic groups in 2021

The Chattooga Conservancy

$14,634

The Chattooga Conservancy

The mission of the Conservancy is to protect, promote and restore the natural ecological integrity of the Chattooga River watershed ecosystem. These funds were raised in 2 ways. As part of our 1% Initiative for the months of July through September and through an ongoing t-shirt fundraiser we have hosted in our store.
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Paws 4 Life

$6,100

Paws 4 Life

Rabun Paws 4 Life is a no-kill animal control shelter that cares for and protects animals from abuse, neglect, and abandonment. These funds were raised as part of our 1% Initiative for the months of April through June and went directly to providing the shelter with resources for supplies.
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F.A.I.T.H.

$11,365

F.A.I.T.H.

F.A.I.T.H. or Fight Abuse In The Home provides free services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse in Northeast Georgia. These funds were raised as part of our 1% Initiative for the months of October through December and went directly to providing shelter services.
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Lost-N-Found Youth

$2,450

Lost-N-Found Youth

Lost-N-Found Youth in Atlanta is a non-profit that exists to end homelessness for LGBTQ+ and all sexual minority youth. With more than 40% of homeless youth identifying as LGBTQ+, Lost-N-Found Youth seeks to address this very real problem by creating transitional housing and providing job training for unhoused youth.⁠
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Orianne Society

$4,450

Orianne Society

The Orianne Society is one of the leading organizations for the conservation of reptiles and amphibians by focusing on the science and conservation of their critical habitats. These funds were raised as part of our 1% Initiative for the months of January through March and went directly to conservation efforts of reptiles and amphibians.
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Black In Appalachia

$1,555

Black In Appalachia

Black in Appalachia is highlighting the history of African-Americans in the development of the region by raising the visibility on the contributions of Black communities in the Mountain South. These funds were raised as part of a new initiative we started in 2020 to amplify black voices in our book section with 100% of the proceeds of every book sale going directly to the project.
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Wander With Diversity Grant

$5,500

Wander With Diversity Grant

These funds are a part of a new initiative we launched in 2020 to help amplify BIPOC representation in North Georgia and the outdoor industry. We established two yearly grants for BIPOC owned and operated organizations with an outdoor focus and majority BIPOC constituency in an effort to decrease racial and cultural inequities in the outdoors.
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Miscellaneous

$3,000+

Miscellaneous

The remaining funds were donated to groups like Black Rock Mountain State Park, a local Women's Trail Festival, and other groups in the community.

Increased Wages

Since the beginning, we’ve tried to do our best to be above the industry average in our wages and compensation. While we’ve done an adequate job, the stresses of COVID during 2020 exposed just how bad adequate was in the life and health of our team. Since then we’ve doubled down on our commitment to providing meaningful living wage jobs.

In 2021, we increased our starting pay to $15 an hour, added a 100% employer funded healthcare plan for all full time team members, created 6 new positions (3 full time and 3 part time), and promoted four people. These promotions, raises, and pay grade adjustments added an additional $200,000 to our annual payroll and compensation. Up almost 100% from 2020. 

The challenges of 2020 lit a fire under our ass to make sure everyone on our team was able to participate tangibly in our growth. One of our core Values is to stimulate economic impact in the region that creates living wage jobs for the next generation and in 2021 we took a big step to solidify that for our business.

New Benefits

Our goal has always been to create an environment in which our team not just enjoys their work, but finds fulfillment in it. A place where they can use their talents and passion to help cultivate the shape and substance of what we do around here. To that end, this year we began layering in some additional benefits in an effort to provide a work space that was good for mind, body, and spirit.

One of the biggest benefits we added in 2021 was 100% employer funded healthcare for our staff. We worked with a local agent who helped us pick out an amazing plan that allowed us to cover 100% of all healthcare costs for our staff.

We also introduced fully paid parental leave for mothers and fathers/spouses. Full time staff get 5 paid weeks and part time get 2 paid weeks. This way, whether you’re an expectant mother or a supporting spouse, you can enjoy the first few weeks of your new family without the financial stress of having to miss work.

We introduced paid sick time for all team members. Trying to navigate through COVID the last two years exposed just how important it is for our team to take the time they need to rest, recuperate and recover when they’re not feeling 100%. 

We also created a variety of other benefits like a paid day off for their birthday, paid voting leave to go and exercise their right to vote in whatever way and for whatever candidate they choose, and paid volunteer time to go and serve in our community.

We’re also actively working with three of our team members who are in the process of starting their own individual businesses by coaching them through their business, supply chains, profitability, and marketing plans. One of the team members has already launched their maker-based business and the other two will be going live in the coming months. We can’t wait to tell you more of their stories and showcase their talents!

B-Corp Certification

In 2021 we spent 100+ hours working with a team of UGA Grad students to work through and submit our B-Corp application. B-Corps are a group of businesses that voluntarily commit to higher standards of transparency, accountability, and performance. We underwent a 200+ question assessment with the goal of making sure our small business meets or exceeds the highest social and environmental standards.

Things like implementing a blind hiring process, measuring and reducing our energy usage, making our job interviews kid friendly to eliminate the pressure for childcare, setting standards for diverse suppliers, providing living wage jobs, creating sustainability standards for our product assortment and in-store operations, contributing locally in our community, and more. 

One of the areas we’ve identified as a place where we can set some goals and see improvement is with the brands we carry in our store. We’ve created some guardrails that make sure we’re choosing from the categories of local, sustainable, diverse, small business based and made in the USA anytime we have the opportunity. You can read more about our thought process here and see some of the early results from our first few months of focus below. 

7.6%

Locally Made
(within a 100 mile radius)

a +2.6% increase from previous year

26.5%

Sustainably Made or Certified

a +1.5% increase from previous year

23.9%

Minority, LGBTQ+, Female or Veteran Owned

a +10.9% increase from previous year

19.7%

Made by a Small Business

a +9.7% increase from previous year

23.6%

Made in the USA

a +10.6% increase from previous year

In 2021, we also doubled down on our commitment to local makers and artists and increased their product offerings by 25%

within a 100 mile radius we stocked items from . . .

35 Makers, Artists, & Small Businesses representing over 215+ items

and from across the country an additional . . .

40 Makers, Artists, & Small Businesses representing another 345+ items

Operations

  • We shipped to all 50 states!
  • This year we moved all of our poly shipping bags to a biodegradable and compostable standard while our shipping boxes continue to be made from 100% recyclable materials
  • We continued our effort to be Amazon free within the next 2 years by finding local and regional options for all of our office and cleaning supplies along with logistical items like clothing hangars, tags, printer ink, etcetera.

Sustainable Materials

This year, 26.5% of the products we carry in our store or online came with a sustainably made or certified designation.

For our Wander North Georgia branded clothing, we continued to make sure all of our longsleeve shirts were made with American grown cotton, our sweatshirts and hoodies included recycled materials, and new for 2021, our Classic Logo shirts coming on a new material that is our most sustainable yet. 

50% RECYCLED POLYESTER

Our polyester comes from recycled plastic water bottles and forms the foundation of our tri-blend Classic Logo Shirts.

25% Organic Cotton

Our cotton is organic, US-grown, combed, and ring-spun for a soft, natural fabric.

25% Tencel Modal

Our tencel Modal is sourced from sustainable beech trees which rounds out the soft feel and wear of our shirts.

Yarn

Our yarns are spun, knit, and fabric dyed in America, then cut and sewn ethically in Haiti, and finally finished back in the US.

It was an amazing year of growth for us in 2021 and we can’t wait to see where 2022 takes us.

Thank you for your support.

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