tofino business: fiber options

Tofino Business Profile: Fiber Options

by Darcy Dobell


In the summer of 1994, Gord Johns was a young business student headed to Asia to launch a career in finance. Along the way, he stopped for a quick holiday in Clayoquot Sound, on the west coast of Vancouver Island. He never left—but he hasn’t quite got around to his holiday, either.

At the time, logging companies and environmentalists were locked in battle over the future of the rainforests of Clayoquot Sound. Looking out at the forests from Tofino harbour, Gord began asking questions. How can we take the pressure off ancient forests to supply the world’s fiber and pulp needs? How do we meet the demand for quality goods without damaging precious ecosystems? How do we encourage businesses to adopt environmentally friendly practices—not just in Clayoquot Sound, but around the world?

As he asked these questions, Gord found himself changing his mind about his own future. Rather than join an economy that was based on exploiting natural resources, Gord decided to put his energy into building an economy based on promoting ecological sustainability. With the support of a progressive local investment company, the first Fiber Options store opened in Tofino in 1997. Gord partnered with Peter Skeels of Whistler, B.C., to open a second store in Whistler in 1998. A third Fiber Options store opened in Victoria in 2000.

The premise behind Fiber Options is a simple one: where there is a market, the economy moves to meet it. When customers choose eco-friendly products, the businesses that make these products can grow and expand, and other businesses will change their practices to become more environmentally friendly. In turn, as more businesses enter the eco-friendly market, the range and quality of products increases, leading to more consumer demand. Or so the theory goes…


tofino business: fiber options


In practice, getting started was a little more difficult. When Fiber Options first opened its doors just a few years ago, the market for hemp and organic cotton clothing, natural body care, tree-free paper, and other products was so small that many suppliers could not stay in business. This made it harder to offer a range of high-quality products to our customers. As Fiber Options and other eco-friendly businesses have grown, consumer awareness has increased, the market has become steadier, and small suppliers have found a more stable footing. More recently, Gord has been thrilled to see a shift towards eco-friendly products taking hold among mainstream suppliers, as larger companies such as Patagonia introduce their own lines of recycled pop-bottle fleece jackets and organic cotton clothing. Today, you can find Fiber Options stores in Tofino, Whistler and Victoria. You can probably even find Gord at one of them. Just don’t ask him about that holiday.

Tofino Time Magazine August 2004

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Tofino business profile on Fiber Options, a natural clothing and eco friendly product store in Tofino.

tofino time august 2004

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