Patagonia's owner, who is giving the retailer away to a nonprofit, once lived in his car and still doesn't own a cellphone
- Patagonia's owner doesn't own a cellphone or computer, The New York Times reported.
- Yvon Chouinard lived out of his car and ate cat food as a professional rock climber in the 1960s.
The owner of Patagonia, who plans to give away the outdoor-apparel retailer to a trust and nonprofit, once lived in his car and still doesn't own a cellphone, The New York Times reported.
Yvon Chouinard was a professional rock climber in California's Yosemite Valley before founding Patagonia in 1973. He used to live out of his car and eat damaged cans of cat food that cost $0.05 each, the newspaper reported.
The 83-year-old "found gas money by diving into trash cans and redeeming soda pop bottles," he wrote in his 2005 book called Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman.
Chouinard wrote that he would spend more than six months a year traveling around North America and the Alps in Europe, catching ground squirrels to eat and sometimes living on just $0.50 a day, Forbes reported.
During this time, he made a living by selling climbing gear out from his car, per Forbes. He later started importing and selling jerseys, gloves, hats, and shorts.
Patagonia has annual sales of more than $1 billion, with profits of about $100 million, The Times reported. The company is valued at about $3 billion.
Yet Chouinard still wears old clothes, drives a rundown Subaru, and has two modest homes in California and Wyoming, according to the newspaper. He doesn't even own a computer or cellphone, it reported.
"I was in Forbes magazine listed as a billionaire, which really, really pissed me off," he told The Times. "I don't have $1 billion in the bank. I don't drive Lexuses."
On Wednesday, Chouinard said that he was transferring Patagonia to a new trust and nonprofit that will use Patagonia's profits to help combat the climate crisis.
"We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company's values intact," he wrote.
He said that if he'd sold Patagonia and donated the money, he wouldn't have been able to ensure the new owner maintained both its values and employees. Taking the company public would have been a "disaster," Chouinard added.
Chouinard is an avid environmentalist, and he's brought these values to his company, too. Patagonia is a certified B Corporation, was an early adopter of organic cotton, and donates 1% of its sales, with a significant chunk going to environmental causes. In 2016, it gave away all its Black Friday sales to grassroots environmental organizations.
Forbes estimated that Chouinard was worth about $1.2 billion before he gave up control of the company, and reported that the move has pushed him off its billionaires' list.
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