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I don't know a thing about business. I never took a business course in school. I don't even do my own taxes. My guiding philosophy has been the Golden Rule. When buying and selling, I want someone to treat me the same way they would want their own mother to be treated.
One thing I've noticed in the world of retail is that there's a whole lot of lying going on. There are different degrees of lying–from selective dis-information to outright distortion of facts. Advertisements commit all of those sins, which is why I come down hard on them in the video "Lightweight Backpacking Secrets Revealed." I suppose it's debatable just how much truth should be revealed. I happen to be a pretty upfront person who values honesty, so what you see is what you get.
Back around 1995 I decided to lower prices on all of my backpacking videos. This wasn't a desperate move on my part to try to revive sluggish sales but rather an attempt to make my prices more compatible with typical Hollywood releases. Specialty DVDs and videos have traditionally justified higher prices because they know the buyer is highly motivated. When "Five Million Steps" first came out in 1987 I fell in line with other such videos and charged $49.95. Within a year I'd dropped it down to $39.95. And now it's $30. Interestingly enough, when I lowered prices sales didn't increase dramatically. If anything, they actually decreased. But I feel better giving people a good deal.
I want to encourage people to get out into the woods and to spend long chunks of time there. But as long as backpacking DVDs, videos and gear are outrageously priced, this is simply not going to happen. If you read Benton MacKaye's original proposal for creating an Appalachian Trail, his dream was to get the masses out of the crowded cities and into the woods. I share that dream. I want people to have a pleasant experience so they will want to return to the woods. That means going light. And it means being affordable.
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