Nonprofits, Retail, and Sustainability

Retailer earns B Corp re-certification

August 1, 2016
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Gazelle Sports Asics running shoes
Gazelle Sports is a retailer of footwear and activewear. Photo via

A retailer has earned a B Corp certification for the second time and improved its score by launching a foundation and implementing various practices.

Gazelle Sports, which sells footwear and activewear, said it received a score of 91 this time around as part of the B Corp certification process, which looks at a company’s performance in the areas of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

When the company was first certified in 2013, it earned a score of 83. To become B Corp certified by the nonprofit B Lab, a company must earn a minimum score of 80.

To maintain B Corp certification, a company must update its assessment every two years.

Originally, when Gazelle Sports applied for a B Corp certification, the company didn't think it would receive a high enough score for certification. The company had planned to use the assessment to develop initiatives for improvement and then re-apply.

Chris Lampen-Crowell, Gazelle Sports co-founder, said he was pleasantly surprised when Gazelle Sports was certified on the first try, but still wanted to use the assessment to make additional improvements and increase the company's practices in alignment with the B Corp assessment.

Lampen-Crowell said Gazelle Sports focused on several improvements to increase its score.

He said one of the most important initiatives the company undertook to improve its score was the launch of the Gazelle Sports Foundation.

“We developed the Gazelle Sports Foundation in the last two years and two percent of our profits go to that foundation,” he said. “The foundation is really about reaching deeper into the community to help people access movement and become healthy.”

Lampen-Crowell said the foundation is focused on reaching out to individuals and organizations and helping people who don’t have access to programs that promote active lifestyles.

He said promoting employee, customer and community health has always been a goal and focus of Gazelle Sports, and the Gazelle Sports Foundation is an opportunity to reach deeper into the community.

Gazelle also instituted a number of policy decisions related to its business operations, including creating a buy local policy.

And it sought to improve its environmental practices.

“We did energy assessments on our leased buildings and met with every landlord and talked with them about opportunities in terms of becoming more energy efficient,” he said.

“We also began working with our vendors on a vendor audit of what they are doing for their environmental standards.”

Lampen-Crowell said the company also engaged staff to help them improve their personal practices related to environmental sustainability and the B Corp values.

He said being a B Corp is important to the employees of Gazelle Sports and the company’s culture.

“It does matter to my employees, and it’s something we are proud of,” he said.

Lampen-Crowell said he thinks it's important for companies to become B Corp certified.

“I think West Michigan is filled with incredible organizations and businesses that are doing the B Corp kinds of things for our community and their employees and the environment,” he said. “But when companies become B Corps and there is a critical mass of people saying, ‘Hey, this is important for businesses to look at business success in these ways,’ you start changing the context of other businesses thinking.

“For us, it's being in that larger group of B Corps that are becoming a critical mass and saying this is an important flag to wave and its a way businesses succeed in this competitive environment.”

Gazelle Sports has four locations in Michigan: Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, Holland and Northville.

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